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‘Something Out of a Horror Movie’ — Wisconsin Couple Accused of Abuse After Blood-Covered Children Escape Uninhabitable Home: Report

milwaukee couple arrested child abuse neglect house of horrors
Source: Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office

Oct. 31 2023, Published 12:05 p.m. ET

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A couple in Wisconsin was arrested after neighbors found her two children covered in blood and walking down the street naked, and the mother may be ready to take a plea deal, a report citing recent court records claims.

According to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, a call came into the Milwaukee Police Department from someone informing them that “two naked juveniles, estimated to be 13 years old and 9 years old, were walking about the neighborhood with blood on them.”

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The caller watched as a woman "yanked" the two children, who reportedly were covered in bruises and red marks, into a house, officials said.

Once at the scene, police said officers learned the woman, later identified as 34-year-old Katie Koch, allegedly “violently dragged the child back to the house.” As the responding officers neared the house, an officer heard what sounded like a “quieted cry or whimper” and saw Koch exit the home through a side door.

Koch “appeared to be flustered and anxious” and told the responding officer that her father died and her kids, determined to be 7 and 9 years old, broke a window, police said.

The officer then went inside the residence and said it looked like a “terrible hoarding situation” with trash all over the place and feces “smeared all over the walls in one of the bedrooms, authorities said.

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Koch was seen putting a diaper on another child, who also had red marks on his body, police said. Backup officers then arrived and Koch allegedly told them, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so afraid.”

Investigators allegedly found a “mound of trash and garbage” outside the children’s bedroom, which smelled like urine and feces, authorities said. They also found a latch on the outside of the door they believe was used to lock the children inside.

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Koch said she lived at the home with her boyfriend, 38-year-old Joel Manke, who referred to himself as the children's stepfather. Manke allegedly told police he boarded up the windows in the children’s room to “keep the children from bothering the nosy neighbor.”

Manke said he locked the door to prevent the kids from walking around the house at night, police said.

Koch, police said, has been living with Manke for three years and during that time, she never took the kids to the doctor or enrolled them in school. The mother claimed she home-schooled the children, but she admitted she “doesn’t have a proper curriculum” for them, police said, adding Koch also acknowledged that the “home is not habitable.”

Assistant District Attorney Mallory Davis told WISN-TV that the situation was “something out of a horror movie.”

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Police interviewed a witness, who said he saw one of the children sitting outside naked and looking like a “caveman” when walking. Several other witnesses told police they had never seen the children before.

The children were transported to the hospital, where staff shaved their hair off because it was filled with feces, authorities said.

Koch and Manke were arrested and each charged with chronic neglect of a child and false imprisonment, officials said. Koch was also charged with neglecting a child where specified harm did not occur.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Manke was released from custody after posting a $6,500 bond, while Koch remains in the Milwaukee County Jail.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Koch's defense team recently met with the Milwaukee Circuit Court judge on the case and court records show she now has a plea hearing scheduled on Nov. 30, indicating she may be working on a possible deal with prosecutors.

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