18-Year-Old Who Escaped Abuse Wants Siblings Freed from Adoptive Mother

URBANDALE, Iowa -- Eighteen-year-old Malayia Knapp is free and doing well now, but for years she lived in hell at a home on Hickory Lane in Urbandale. Knapp says she was tortured at the hands and direction of her adoptive mother Mindy Knapp.

"She would beat us and make us do exercises and dump water on us and make us go without food and water, but then she would lock us in the room if we had any injuries so that we wouldn't be able to tell anybody or do anything about it," said Malayia.

Malayia was adopted at the age of 10, but says the abuse really started when she was 12 years old. She says her adoptive mother was controlling, and made it impossible to tell any other adults what was going on.

"She changed all of our names and all of our social security numbers so no one really knew where we were and then made us think that nobody really wanted us or that we had anybody to talk to," said Malayia.

Malayia thought there was no way out, but she reached a breaking point and found one in December of 2015. "I was just crying and I was like, I cant live like this anymore. I feel like I'm going to die. I feel like this is, I need to get help for my siblings," she said.

The next day, she made a break for it. "I wait for her to turn away and she turns away because she would watch us to make sure we didn't leave for a second and I just get on my bike and start biking to the Casey's on 86th Street," she said.

Malayia called police from the Casey's and DHS removed Malayia from Mindy's home. Malayia is now living with a Pastor and is going to college, but while she is doing well now, she is worried about her siblings.

"I want them to be able to get help and healing and recovery like I have and be able to get away from Mindy," said Malayia.

At her right side is State Senator Matt McCoy who is calling for change. "We have failed these kids in our state, and we’ve got to change that," said McCoy. "We’ve got to get into why the courts are leaving, in this particular case, why the courts would leave Malayia’s brothers and sisters with a convicted and admitted abuser in a founded abuse case."

Last April, Mindy Knapp was charged with two counts of assault causing bodily injury or mental illness. She pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault and was given a year's probation and a deferred judgment by Polk County Judge Terry L. Wilson.