Two young boys from Wisconsin, aged 7 and 9, managed to escape from their home where they had been confined for years, leading to the arrest and charging of their mother and her partner. The mother, Katie Koch, 34, and her boyfriend, Joel Manke, 38, are now facing serious felony charges due to their treatment of the children.
The boys were first spotted by a neighbor as they peered through a broken window before making their escape. They climbed onto an air conditioning unit, jumped into the yard, and then proceeded to walk down the street, naked and injured. A child who saw the boys outside described their behavior as primitive, as if they were experiencing sunlight for the first time.
Another neighbor, Christine Eder, who lives across the street from the boys’ home in the Milwaukee area, told ABC 7 that it seemed as though the boys had never been outdoors. She called 911 while keeping an eye on the boys, noting their unusual walk and unkempt appearance.
The boys’ home was described by Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Mallory Davis as a scene from a horror movie. The police investigation revealed a house filled with garbage, an overwhelming smell of feces, and a room for the boys that could be locked from both the inside and outside, with feces smeared on the walls.
Koch admitted to the police that the boys had escaped through a broken window. She had been living in the house with Manke, who has owned it since 2007, for about four years. Koch homeschooled the boys and acknowledged that the house was uninhabitable and that her sons deserved better. Manke, on the other hand, admitted to being aware of the inappropriate living conditions but chose to avoid confrontations with Koch. He also revealed that the boys had not been taken to a doctor or school since Koch moved in with him.
Following the arrest of Koch and Manke, the boys were placed in protective custody. Davis stated that the boys were severely affected by their mother’s actions, lacking basic education and toilet training, and were essentially unable to function in society.
Koch is facing four felony counts and two misdemeanors for child neglect and false imprisonment, while Manke also faces four felony counts. If convicted on all felony counts, they could face fines of up to $120,000 and 43.5 years in prison. Koch could also face an additional $20,000 in fines and 18 months in prison related to the misdemeanor counts.