MOUNT VERNON, Ind. — A woman testified that she went to a rural southwestern Indiana home to party with a couple before she was held captive in a wooden cage at the house and repeatedly raped over a two-month period last year.
The woman took the witness stand Tuesday during the trial of Ricky House Jr., 38, of Poseyville. House is charged with rape, criminal confinement and kidnapping.
The woman told Posey County jurors that House and his girlfriend, 45-year-old Kendra Tooley, threatened to kill her if she tried to escape, the Evansville Courier & Press and WFIE-TV reported. She testified that House kept her in the cage for much of the last half of the 59 days she was at the couple’s trailer, and that she stopped counting after was raped at least 10 times.
“I felt horrible, like an animal. I was scared,” she said.
The woman said she had been staying at an Evansville women’s shelter in July 2014 when she went with House to the couple’s home about 25 miles northwest of the city. She testified she knew House from school and had worked with Tooley at a restaurant.
Once at the home, she said they smoked marijuana and she drank vodka she brought until it was time to leave.
“He came at me with something on my face. It felt like a sock or a rag. I smelled a strong odor. I think I passed out from the smell,” she said. She said she woke up blindfolded and tied to a bed.
“I was scared I would get sold and never see my family again. I didn’t think I would make it out alive,” she said.
During opening statements Monday, House’s defense attorney said the woman was at the home on her own free will and that she used drugs with the couple.
Tooley, who has pleaded not guilty to similar charges, is scheduled is scheduled to face trial next month.
Tooley’s ex-husband, Ronald Higgs, testified that he helped the woman escape in September 2014, after realizing she was being held captive. Higgs said the woman looked like a “whooped dog” wearing nothing but a T-shirt and had a collar with a rope attached.
Evansville police Officer Ben Gentry, who was the lead crime-scene investigator, testified that the woman was kept inside a wooden cage that measured 27-inches wide and tall and 49-inches long.
Gentry said the cage — made of baby crib slats with a heavy table top for a lid — was built into the wall of a bedroom closet so that it was difficult to see. He said it took officers three hours to remove it.