Couple Allegedly Adopted African-American Kids for Forced Labor

The accusations against an affluent White Charleston, West Virginia, couple who allegedly subjected their black adopted children to forced labor have resulted in their re-incarceration. 

Prosecutors found the five adopted children of Donald Ray Lantz and Jeanne Kay Whitefeather, 63, living in appalling conditions. The children were 16, 14, 11, 9, and 6 years old. The pair was charged with several counts of child maltreatment, forced labor, human trafficking, and other related offenses. 

October 2023 saw the couple’s residence in Sissonville revealed to be a house of horrors during a health check; they had broken into a barn on the property and discovered two children in a cramped area. It was clear that the kids weren’t getting enough food or clean water, and they certainly didn’t have a way to get out of the barn independently. The youngsters were described as unclean and smelling strongly in court papers; the 14-year-old was further described as having open sores on his bare feet.

The South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County is holding Whitefeather and Lantz on a bond of $500,000. This month, they entered not guilty pleas. They allegedly began assaulting the children at their 80-acre ranch in Washington state, but the pair fled to West Virginia when they found out they were under investigation. They initially posted a collective bond of $400,000, but a judge increased it to $500,000 per person last month after ruling that it was too low. 

The pair, according to prosecutors, posted the first bail using proceeds from the sale of their residences in Washington and West Virginia, which they allegedly used to fund their human trafficking operations.

According to Christopher Krivonyak, an assistant prosecuting attorney for Kanawha County, the family was thought to have lived at those two locations during the commission of the crimes. They requested that the court retain the funds until the outcome of their claim litigation. If they’re right, they should give it to the youngsters.