Wealthy West Virginia Couple Who Adopted Black Kids Accused of Locking Them Up and Using Them as Slaves

Donald Lantz and Jeanne Whitefeather
Jeanne Whitefeather (left) and Donald Lantz. Twitter

A white couple is accused of locking up their Black, adopted children in a barn and forcing them into labor.

Donald Lantz and Jeanne Whitefeather were arrested in October after police responded to a welfare report from their neighbor. When police arrived at the couple's Sissonville, West Virginia home, they found two of their five adopted children locked in a 20ft by 14ft barn on their property.

The Children were Deprived of 'Hygienic Care and Food'

The girl, 16, and 14-year-old boy were deprived of "hygienic care and food," police said at the time. Officers also found a third child, nine, inside an unprotected loft area of the main house.

The couple pleaded not guilty to child neglect charges last October. Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers handed each a $200,000 bond, which they both posted in February.

Last month, a grand jury indicted the couple on 16 new counts, local outlet WCHS reported. Akers raised their bond to $500,000 each as a result, puttin both Lantz and Whitefeather back behind bars.

The new charges include human trafficking of a minor; civil rights violations based on color, race and/or ancestry; use of a minor child in forced labor; and child neglect creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death.

Prosecutors: Couple Forced Them into Farm Labor Because of Their Race

The couple sought out five Black children to adopt and forced them to do labor because of their race, prosecutors have said. This abuse began in a Washington home before continuing at the West Virginia residence where police found the children, according to prosecutors.

The couple pleaded not guilty to the new charges.

Whitefeather Claims Children were Using the Barn as a 'Clubhouse'

Whitefeather has since claimed that the children were using the barn as a "teenage clubhouse" and were not being held against their will. But according to the indictment, neighbors told investigators: "The children were forced to perform farm labor and were not permitted inside the residence."

The couple is scheduled to appear back in court on September 9.