CRIME
09/08/2014 11:46 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Joelle Lockwood Found: Missing Indiana Mom Kept In Cage For 2 Months, Cops Say

A missing Indiana woman was found alive this weekend. Investigators have arrested her alleged captors, who she says kept her in a wooden cage inside their trailer for months.

Joelle Lockwood, a 30-year-old mother of two, went missing July 9. She was rescued from a mobile home in Posey County, Indiana, near the Illinois border on Saturday night, Evansville police said.

Lockwood, who appeared to be in good physical health, told investigators that she was held against her will by Ricky House Jr., 37, and Kendra Tooley, 44. She said her abduction occurred after House, who knew Lockwood from school, offered her a ride. She agreed to go back to his home, but then wasn't allowed to leave.

"Once they arrived there, he forced her to stay and confined her," Posey County Sheriff Gregory Oeth said, according to the Indianapolis Star. "As the investigation is progressing, this looks like there's more of a sexual motive."

The newspaper reports:

Lockwood told investigators that her captors sometimes allowed her to walk around inside the trailer, Oeth said. Sometimes, she was kept in a rudimentary wooden cage. Other times, she was tied up.

House and Tooley face preliminary charges of criminal confinement and rape.

Tooley, left, and House (AP/Posey County Jail)

Lockwood was rescued Saturday by Ron Higgs, a friend of the couple. Higgs said he saw the woman in the cage with a nothing but a dog collar on when he visited the trailer on Thursday, according to WISH-TV. He said she asked him not to leave her there.

Higgs told TristateHompage.com that he tried to buy Lockwood's freedom from her captors, but was denied:

"The whole time during it all they was talking about a baby. 'She's not leaving here until she has the baby. I'm not selling her, you're not taking her, you're not doing nothing.' She told me Ricky was raping her, making her have oral sex. Kendra can't have more children and Ricky doesn't have any children of his own. I hate to say this to the public or even her even hearing it, but I think they were just going to have a baby and we would never see her again."

He told the website that he returned to the trailer Saturday night and freed Lockwood. When he and the woman tried to leave, House confronted him with a shotgun and a fight broke out between them. Higgs said he headbutted House and was able to escape. He transported Lockwood to Evansville and notified police.

Officers from the Posey County Sheriff's Office and the Evansville Police Department's SWAT team then searched the mobile home and arrested the suspects.

Previously, police in southwest Indiana were exploring possible connections between Lockwood's case and the disappearance of another area woman, 27-year-old Kristy Kelley. Oeth said there now appears to be no connection between the cases.

"I hope that this gives hope to Kristy Kelley's family and Megan Nichols' family and everyone else who has a missing loved one right now," Amanda Crowe, a friend of Lockwood's, told WFIE. "It doesn't matter if it's two days, two months or two years, you absolutely should not give up hope, because they can come back."

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