Couple arrested after boys kept in captivity for years escape horrible conditions

In a shocking incident in Wisconsin, two young boys, aged 7 and 9, managed to break free from their home where they had been held captive for years. This led to the arrest of their mother, Katie Koch, 34, and her boyfriend, Joel Manke, 38. Both are now facing serious felony charges for their alleged abuse of the children.

The boys’ escape was first noticed by a neighbor who saw them peering through a broken window before they climbed out onto an air conditioner, jumped into the yard, and walked down the street without any clothes and visibly injured. A child who witnessed the boys’ behavior described it as primitive, as if they were experiencing the outside world for the first time. Another neighbor, Christine Eder, was shocked by the sight and immediately called 911 while keeping an eye on the boys.

The living conditions of the boys were described as horrifying by Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney, Mallory Davis. The house was filled with trash, and the smell of feces was pervasive. The boys’ room was equipped with locks on both sides, and the walls were smeared with feces. The boys were reportedly locked in their room for the majority of their lives, with the windows boarded up. The officers described the scene as a severe hoarding situation, with the floor of the home barely visible.

Koch confessed to the police that the boys had broken a window and escaped. She admitted to living in the house with Manke, the owner since 2007, for about four years. She also confessed to homeschooling the boys and acknowledged that the home was unfit for living and that her sons deserved better. Manke admitted to being aware of the appalling conditions but claimed he had to avoid arguments with Koch. He also revealed that Koch had never taken the boys to a doctor or school since they started living together.

After the arrest of Koch and Manke, the boys were taken into protective custody. Davis stated that the boys’ heads had to be shaved due to the feces covering them. She further added that the boys were severely affected by their mother’s actions, lacked education, and were not toilet-trained. They were essentially unable to function in society.

Koch and Manke are facing serious charges. If convicted, they could be fined up to $120,000 and face up to 43.5 years in prison. Koch is also facing two misdemeanor counts, which could result in an additional $20,000 in fines and 18 months in prison.