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Disguised Racism and Modern-Day Slavery: West Virginia Couple Accused of Exploiting Black Children

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In a shocking case of disguised racism and modern-day slavery, Jeanne Whitefeather, 62, and Donald Lantz, 63, face serious charges in West Virginia. They allegedly adopted five Black children from a shelter to force them into labor and live in horrible conditions. The 16-count indictment highlights human trafficking, child neglect, and forced labor, with a focus on racial targeting.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers explained that the indictment reveals human rights violations, emphasizing that the children were used as slaves due to their race.

Whitefeather and Lantz are currently in South Central Regional Jail on $500,000 bail. Both pleaded not guilty. During a welfare check in October, deputies discovered the children in a barn and the couple’s home. The barn had no exit, water, or bathroom facilities, and the children were deprived of proper hygiene and food. Two children, aged 14 and 16, were found locked inside for 12 hours, forced to sleep on concrete floors, and showed signs of severe neglect.

Neighbors reported the children were made to perform farm labor and were not allowed inside the house. Whitefeather’s attorney claimed a misunderstanding, but evidence suggests otherwise. Lantz arrived later with an 11-year-old boy and led deputies to a 6-year-old girl at a friend’s house.

The couple initially abused the children on their ranch in Washington state before moving to West Virginia to evade investigation. They posted a $400,000 bail, which was later increased to $500,000 each. Prosecutors suspect the bail money came from human trafficking profits and aim to redirect it to support the children.

This case raises critical questions: How can we better protect vulnerable children from such hidden racism? What measures should be taken to prevent similar abuses?

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