A neighborhood has been rocked after two seemingly feral children revealed the existence of a house of horrors, a discovery that leaves two adults facing serious child neglect charges.

Residents in a Milwaukee neighborhood first noticed something was wrong on July 13 as two naked and filthy young boys were spotted walking on the street.

Neighbors describe seeing the boys looking through a shattered window on a home before clambering out onto an air conditioning unit. The boys then made their way to the ground and down the road.

One child witness told WDJT the boys were “acting like cavemen, like they had never seen the sun before.”

Christine Eder, who lives across the street from the boys’ home, said it looked like the children “had never been outside before.”

While Eder watched the two young kids, later revealed to be a 7-year-old and 9-year-old, her husband called emergency services.

“They were just walking different,” she said. “Their hair looked like it had never been brushed, never been cut. They didn’t know the outside existed.”

Police responded and discovered the boys had broken the window to escape from a house of horror.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Mallory Davis explained that disturbing evidence led authorities to believe the kids had been kept in the room for the majority of their lives. The room, which was secured by a door that locked from the outside and boarded-up windows, was so filthy that the floor could not be seen through the trash.


The rest of the house proved to be in a similarly unsanitary state.

Trash and other materials were hoarded in the home, which was described as smelling like feces.

Joel Manke, a 38-year-old man claiming to be the owner of the house, is facing four felony counts for the imprisonment of these children. Katie Koch, the boys’ 34-year-old mother, is facing four felonies and two additional misdemeanors on chronic child neglect and imprisonment charges.

While evidence and neighbors’ testimony paints a picture of two children horrifically abused in the house, Manke’s mother disputes this narrative.

“He took them to the park and outside,” Manke’s mother Diane told WTMJ-TV. “They did things, but that’s what I want people to know. They didn’t keep them in a house trapped up in a room.”

Diane claims her son helped to financially support and take care of the children, who were not his own. She was granted temporary custody of the kids, but surrendered them to the state citing their special needs.

“He’s trying,” Diane said of her son. “I just wish he would’ve tried harder so none of this would’ve come about.”

While Manke has been released from jail following the posting of a $6,500 bond, Koch remains behind bars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *