5 Nov 2010

Woman accused of child slavery in U.S. arrested in Bulgaria, faces extradition

The Charlotte Observer - North Carolina August 21,2009

Woman accused of slavery faces extradition

By Beth Shayne |WCNC.com

A woman accused of modern day slave labor in a house near Monroe may finally be brought back to the United States to face charges.

Warrants were first filed against British national Mercedes Farquharson is 2006 when investigators said she was keeping three adopted daughters locked in her Union County home and forcing them to work all day and all night. She fled the country, and though they believed she was in Spain, investigators said then there wasn’t much they could do.

Farquharson was recently arrested in Bulgaria, and a federal government source says she is being held in a prison there. Paperwork was filed in May to force her extradition to the United States. She would face a slew of federal charges, including forced labor in the Western District of North Carolina.

Union County would also bring charges, including involuntary servitude and child abuse.

The federal court documents lay out a story similar to the one her victims told WCNC in 2006.

Holly and Jasmine Lloyd, then ages 18 and 22, said they were adopted by Farquharson after their mother had worked for her as a maid. Farquharson held herself up as a religion guru, and they believed that she was the messiah.

The Lloyd girls were joined in the home by Emma Trice, also adopted.

The affidavit in support of extradition tells of 20-hour work days, beatings and starvation. It says Farquharson gave the girls caffeine pills to keep them awake to work on the farm she built up around the house.

The home on Hampton Downs Drive was purchased years later by a couple who took on the project of restoring it. Robert Hinson says parts of the home were stained by pigeon droppings, and the floors were covered in straw. (The affidavit says farm animals were raised in the home.) The bedroom doors once locked from the outside.

Hinson now plans to write a book. "I'm in the process right now of just getting stories, talking with neighbors about it, asking questions about it," he says.

Neighbors say the three females -- now adults -- all live in the area and are doing well.

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