|Raymond D. Thurmond is charged with rape, abuse.|
Suspect held in Ga. family abuse
Wife, 4 children captives in trailer
LAVONIA, Ga. - A man accused of holding his wife and four children captive in such squalor that thousands of roaches were crawling in and out of drawers, cupboards, and furniture in their mobile home came close to being evicted for not paying his rent, but otherwise was polite, the park manager said.
Raymond Daniel Thurmond, 36, and his wife both signed the lease for the home in August 2005, but property manager Alma Medina said she saw only Thurmond after that. Police said that is because Thurmond let his wife and children, 9 to 14 years old, out only once in three years to visit relatives.
Thurmond is charged with rape, child abuse, and false imprisonment and was being held without bond until a hearing. He has asked for an attorney but one had not been assigned as of yesterday afternoon.
Medina said she never suspected that he was holding his family captive.
"I saw him because he would come pay rent," Medina said in a telephone interview yesterday. "But I never saw anyone else like family or kids."
Medina said Thurmond told her his family was out of town visiting sick relatives. The lease also lists the children as residents of the trailer in Lavonia, about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta.
Medina said he often paid rent several months late and she sent him an eviction notice in February. She said he paid a few days later and she allowed them to stay because Thurmond was always polite.
Police photos showed roaches in the mobile home. Old pizza boxes were stacked in a corner of the living room with dozens of empty plastic soda bottles strewn on the floor. Stacks of dirty dishes covered kitchen counters and empty cans of food and bags of garbage were all over, mixed with dirty clothes and other debris.
Investigators said Thurmond's wife told them she was not allowed to clean.
The children told police that their father had beat them and they had heard him beating and raping his wife in a bedroom.
Lavonia Police Chief Bruce Carlisle said officers arrested Thurmond on Tuesday when he showed up for work at a poultry processing plant in Stephens County. He said the family was discovered after the woman was able to escape and call for help.
Officers found evidence that the family was forcibly kept in the house, including a padlock on a bedroom door, he said.
He said investigators found no food in the home, and the children were undernourished and underweight. A 14-year-old previously attended first grade, but the other children - 13, 12, and 9 - had never been to school, Carlisle said.
The family was in protective custody. The children were receiving evaluation and treatment.