IMAGE: Cynthia Pollard
Sean Stipp  /  Tribune-Review via AP
Suspect Cynthia Pollard, 41, is led into Magisterial District Judge James Albert's office in Greensburg, Pa., on Tuesday.
updated 3/21/2007 7:06:12 PM ET 2007-03-21T23:06:12

A couple and their three teenage children held a woman captive for six months, beating her with broom handles, boards and a metal pipe and forcing her to do chores as they referred to her as their "slave," police said Wednesday.

All five members of the family were arrested on kidnapping, terroristic threat and related charges. They have not yet entered pleas but denied wrongdoing.

The accuser, Emily Nicely, 19, went to live with the family voluntarily last summer but said that she was forced to stay with them since September.

A man whose newspaper was delivered by the family called police on March 10 after he noticed bruises on her. Police brought her to a hospital, where investigators discovered that she had bruises over her entire body and that she had suffered a concussion.

Greensburg police Capt. George Seranko said police believed Nicely's account because the injuries they saw corroborated her story.

"She had injuries on every part of her body," Seranko said.

Nicely said her family had moved out of Greensburg, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, and that she moved in with the Pollard family so she could finish high school in the same district.

School district officials, however, said she was last enrolled in the 2004-05 school year.

"That's actually still part of our investigation," Seranko said.

Three teens charged
Mark Pollard, 43; his wife, Cynthia, 41; and their oldest son, Mark Jr. 18, remained in jail Wednesday, the day after their arrest. The couple's youngest children, Jonathan, 17, and Tabitha, 16, were charged as adults. They were freed on bond and allowed to stay with other family members.

IMAGE: Mark Pollard
Sean Stipp  /  AP
Suspect Mark Pollard, 43, smiles as he is led into the judge's office Tuesday.
Cynthia Pollard acknowledged that Nicely was forced to stand in a corner but told investigators that Nicely is covered with bruises because she falls while delivering newspapers. She also said the family had "numerous physical confrontations with Ms. Nicely but that it was always in self-defense," according to the police affidavit.

"She's a liar," Cynthia Pollard told television reporters after her arraignment Tuesday.

Shortly after Nicely began staying with the Pollards, they became physically abusive, forced her to do work, and never let her leave the home unless she was accompanied by at least one of them, Nicely told police.

"On numerous occasions, the Pollard family would punch the victim with a closed fist, kick, and strike the victim with any of several objects including boots, broom handles, a metal pipe, wooden door slats, belts, boards, and other objects," police said in an affidavit. "The Pollard family referred to her as their 'slave.'"

Mark Pollard is black. Cynthia Pollard and Nicely are white.

"They told her that if she told anyone or tried to leave, they would put wire around her neck and strangle her. They would then go after her family," police said.

Nicely said she was also punished by having to stand with weights, with her hands on her head or in a corner for hours, police said.

Customer called police
A newspaper customer, Nelson Williams, 66, and his caretaker summoned police after they noticed bruises on Nicely when she brought them the paper on March 10.

"Her face, it looked like a baseball bat hit her," Williams told The Associated Press. "She was bad. Boy, she was bruised."

IMAGE: Tabitha Pollard
Sean Stipp  /  Tribune-Review via AP
Suspect Tabitha Pollard, 16, is led away from the judge's office in Greensburg, Pa., on Tuesday.

Several minutes after Williams took Nicely in, Cynthia Pollard came to the house and demanded that they let Nicely leave.

Williams said Pollard told him that Nicely had mental health problems and said, "She does that to herself."

He said he replied, "Ain't nobody do that to herself in the face."

Nicely is now living with her mother in another county, authorities said. The Associated Press could not immediately locate Nicely for comment.

IMAGE: Emily Nicely
Eric Schmadel  /  AP
Emily Nicely is shown in a 2005 Greensburg Salem High School yearbook photo submitted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Neighbors reported hearing the Pollards fighting frequently and said police had been called to the home several times.

Colleen Clark lives in an apartment next door to the Pollards, and her daughter lives in another unit. She said she once had a run-in with Cynthia Pollard, because Pollard plugged an extension cord into her daughter's porch outlet, apparently because the electricity in the Pollard home was turned off.

Mark Urbanek, who also lives in the apartment building, said the Pollards were always fighting.

"I think that was part of that family's routine," he said.

On Wednesday, nobody was home at the Pollard house in a dingy alley. The front door was open and had no doorknob; the house’s white aluminum siding was covered with dirt.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments