Slavery suspect might have fled to Spain

Date: 2006-03-14

The Associated Press

A 60-year-old woman who has claimed to be the messiah and various American Indian chiefs remains at large nearly three months after authorities issued arrest warrants accusing her of forcing three young women into slavery.

The Union County Sheriff's Office drew the warrants for Mercedes Farquharson in January. Farquharson is accused of keeping the women in involuntary servitude, along with felony child abuse in the suspected beating of her 15-year-old adopted daughter, sheriff's Detective John Young said.

Social services and law enforcement officials rescued the daughter and two sisters, ages 18 and 22, after a neighbor reported suspicious circumstances at their house in December.

Along with the young women, authorities found about 20 chickens and 14 dogs in the house.

"The house was nasty. It was like the inside of a barn," Young said. "This woman was working these girls basically 20 hours a day and wouldn't give them proper nourishment or any kind of schooling."

Young said the case is largely on hold until Farquharson can be found. Investigators think she may have fled to Spain, where she once lived

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