Wealthy White Couple Adopts Five Black Children and Allegedly Turn Them Into Slaves

Wealthy White Couple Adopts Five Black Children and Allegedly Turn Them Into Slaves

They were forced to sleep on concrete floors with no mattresses and one boy had open sores on his feet.

The five Black children were 16, 14, 11, nine, and six years old, and they were slaves. All were homeschooled, with no opportunity for a teacher, coach, or administrator to intervene. There is evidence the youngest girl was able to spend time with another child from their church (I would investigate that family as well). In May 2023, a neighbor called Child Protective Services to report what she’d witnessed. Stacy Miller had seen the children standing in a straight line with their heads down and engaging in manual labor. Kanawha County Sheriff’s deputies visited the home and said they found nothing. Miller made another report in September 2023, and deputies found nothing again. They never communicated their findings to Miller.

"I’m supposed to do the right thing and call," said Stacy Miller. "For a government entity that us taxpayers fund … to not feel like I was listened to at all, that’s heartbreaking for me."

On a third visit in October 2023, police found what they should have discovered on either of the first two visits. A thorough check of the children’s circumstances would have included inspecting their bedrooms. The third visit found the two eldest children locked in a shed with an RV porta-potty and no running water. They said they had been there since 6 A.M. without food. Three hours after finding the first two, a nine-year-old girl was discovered in a loft in the locked main house. That evening, Donald Ray Lantz (63) returned home with the 11-year-old. Shortly afterward, his partner, Jeanne Kay Whitefeather, 62, came home alone. She led authorities to a church friend’s home where the 6-year-old was playing.

The two oldest children described the circumstances under which they were kept. They were forced to sleep on concrete floors with no mattresses. The boy had open sores on his bare feet. Their adoptive mother claimed the children were having fun in what she called a “teen clubhouse.” The children claimed they had been abused previously at their home in Tonasket, Washington, before moving to West Virginia with their parents under suspicion of abuse and neglect. Did nobody in Washington follow up once the family moved? Did officials anywhere give a damn about the children?

Lantz and Whitefeather were arrested in October, and the children were removed from the home. The couple was charged with neglect, and each posted a $200,000 bond while claiming no assets. On June 25, 2024, a dozen additional charges were added, including human trafficking of a minor child, use of a minor child in forced labor, and child neglect, creating a substantial risk of severe bodily injury or death; their bond was increased from $200,000 each to $500,000 each.

Judge Maryclaire Akers described the indictment to the court:

“It alleges human trafficking, human rights violations, the use of forced labor," she said. "Human rights violations specific to the fact that these children were targeted because of their race and they were used basically as slaves from what the indictment alleges.”

The couple's next hearing is set for September 9, 2024. In February, they sold their 80-acre ranch in Tonasket, Washington, for $725,000. They allegedly sold their Sissonville, West Virginia residence for $295,000. Authorities are considering whether that money was legally obtained if the homes were involved and the money for their sales was obtained during the commission of crimes.

It seems the ball was dropped several times while the five kids suffered. What did Washington officials do when the family moved away while under suspicion? Did anyone follow up to ensure they were monitored in the new location?

There is no documentation that Child Protective Services in West Virginia visited the Sissonville home. CPS doesn’t keep track of addresses they see; they track mileage. Why didn’t the first two visits reveal that children were sleeping on a concrete floor? Were no physical examinations done on the children? How else could abuse be ruled out? When the couple claimed no assets, was a basic search done that would reveal an 80-acre ranch in Washington?

There is a suggestion that the million dollars in bail money be transferred to a trust for the children. Otherwise, they’ll have to be content with thoughts and prayers. I can only imagine the climate for reparations in West Virginia. This is a story I never thought I’d be reporting in 2024.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.