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Girl, 10, forced to live in basement; parents believed she was possessed: cops

Sun-Times file photo

Authorities have taken a 10-year-old Waukegan girl and her siblings into protective custody after discovering that her parents held her captive in the basement of their home in the north suburb, Waukegan police announced Wednesday.

The girl’s parents, identified as 48-year-old Randy Swopes and 49-year-old Katherine Swopes, were taken into custody Tuesday and charged with felony counts of child endangerment and unlawful restraint, police said.

Both were ordered held at the Lake County Jail in lieu of posting bonds of $75,000 and $15,000 respectively, police said.

The parents allegedly told authorities they believed the girl was “possessed by a demon,” police said.

Randy Swopes (left) and Katherine Swopes | Waukegan police
Randy Swopes (left) and Katherine Swopes | Waukegan police

Officers responded to the home about 1:50 p.m. Tuesday in the 200 block of Liberty Street after someone called 911 and said they believed a person was being held captive in the basement of the home, police said.

Since at least January, the girl was locked in the basement at night and had limited access to the outside, police said. The girl was given a training toilet for a bathroom and showered from a bucket, police said. Investigators also believe she was kept away from her siblings — ages 7, 13 and 15.

Police Cmdr. Joe Florip said the case remains under active investigation and he couldn’t comment further.

All four juveniles were taken into the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, police said. A spokeswoman for the agency said officials were investigating allegations of abuse and neglect involving Katherine and Randy Swopes, but did not comment on whether officials had prior contact with the family.

Randy Swopes is listed with the state’s Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry, police said. The database is maintained by Illinois State Police and includes the home addresses and photos of people convicted of certain crimes, similar to the Sex Offender Registry. Swopes has registered regularly in Waukegan since 2012, police said.

The requirement to register came after Swopes was convicted of aggravated battery to a child, according to state police records. Sheriff’s office spokesman Christopher Coveli said Swopes was charged in 2008 for attempting a “medical procedure on one of his children by trying to sew an open wound closed.”