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Cops: Teen escapes after being held captive in Illinois for more than 3 years

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET: WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. -- A teenage girl reported missing more than three years ago escaped from a home in southwestern Illinois where she said she was held captive and repeatedly sexually assaulted, authorities said Thursday.

Police in Washington Park, a village next to East St. Louis, said the girl reported that she was raped by her captor, got pregnant and had a baby.


In April 2009, St. Louis, Mo., police listed the girl as a missing or runaway juvenile. She was 15 when she disappeared.

 

'Beaten almost every day'

Washington Park Police Chief David Clark said the girl, now 19-years-old, told investigators she endured almost daily beatings and sexual assaults. 

The teenager escaped from the home in Washington Park on Monday with the help of a relative and went to police, saying her 2-year-old son was still in the house.

Clark said the girl visited the house voluntarily but was not allowed to leave.

KSDK reporter Talia Kaplan said: "She told police she was not allowed out of the house and was sexually assaulted and beaten almost every day."

Clark said the teen met her alleged captor socially "through someone else when they were partying, and a relationship built."

About two dozen members of a SWAT team wearing helmets and body armor swarmed the home Thursday afternoon with their assault rifles drawn. They recovered the two-year-old child and arrested a 25-year-old man.

Clark said the reason three days passed between the girl’s report and the raid on the home was so investigators could substantiate her story. He said investigators were also working a separate sexual-assault case and didn’t have enough manpower.

Read more on this story from NBC station KSDK 

One of the officers carried the boy — apparently unharmed — in his arms, and a white sheet was draped over the child's head to conceal the toddler's identity. The child was taken away in a waiting ambulance.

Investigators plan to have the child's DNA tested to see if the man is indeed his father. 

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said the conditions inside the home were "definitely deplorable."

Initial evidence suggests that "some of the details are consistent with what the young lady is saying, and I think there's something to it." Kelly said. "We're still trying to figure out what the heck is going on."

Clark said it appears the man's mother assisted in the crime. She was also taken into custody. Police would not identify either of them by name because they had not been charged as of Thursday evening.

The teen told police she was held against her will. She reported trying to escape several times but told police that her captor chased her down each time and forced her back to the home at gunpoint.

NBC station KSDK reported:

"She told police as she tried to escape a suspect tried to pull her back into the home, but her relatives were at the scene and helped her escape and contact police."

J.B. Forbes / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Members of the Madison County tactical response team take a two-year-old child to a waiting ambulance in Washington Park, Ill., on Thursday.

Police said the teen also told them she was forced by the man and his mother to give a false name in medical records during her pregnancy and when the child was born.

A neighbor, Lakeitha Smith, told several local TV stations that she saw the girl from time to time outside the house and never witnessed anything that would raise concern.

"I used to see her come out of the house, back and forth," Smith said. "I didn't think she was being held hostage in the house."

Speaking to KSDK, Smith described the occupants of the home as "pretty nice people and regular neighbors."

Long known for its strip clubs and poverty, Washington Park — tucked on the edge of East St. Louis — has grappled for years with corruption and violent crime punctuated by the 2010 shooting death of the village's mayor, John ThorntonA suspect in that killing was convicted in April of first-degree murder and awaits sentencing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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