EAST ST. LOUIS • A teenager’s story of being enticed from the streets of Madison into a cross-country prostitution ring involving at least five girls led to charges against a couple from Park Hills, Mo., according to documents in federal court here.
That local victim claimed that one girl died in her arms and that they were beaten and threatened with being fed to alligators in a swamp if they tried to escape.
Charges of sex trafficking of a minor and conspiracy were filed against Marcus Dewayne Thompson, 28, and Robin (Lott) Thompson, 24, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton’s office.
The girl, 15, reported the couple to authorities July 25 from Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. She said she believed the four other victims were from 12 to 18 years old.
The teen, who had been missing since June 9, said she was walking down the street in Madison when Marcus Thompson approached in a white pickup with the four other girls inside.
She agreed to get in after he told her she could earn money as a model.
She said that when she told him her age, Marcus Thompson replied, “That’s fine.”
From there, the girl told authorities, they switched vehicles twice, the second time to a camper the Thompsons allegedly stole from a retailer somewhere in Missouri.
They then drove to Orlando, Fla., where the girl said she posed on a bed for pictures that were used to advertise prostitution.
She told investigators that Marcus Thompson posted the ads and Robin Thompson coordinated the customers.
She said she brought in about $1,000 a day for having sex with men, some of whom would take pictures and videos.
She told investigators they worked in several locations in Florida, and also Nashville, Tenn.; the Dallas-Fort Worth area; New Mexico; and St. Louis.
At one point, she told investigators, one of the girls died in her arms. The court documents do not provide any further explanation of that.
She said that she was sold to a trucker in Texas for $2,000 but that he returned her after two hours because he feared she would snitch.
As for being fed to alligators, documents say the girl was under the impression that this ultimately did happen to one of the girls.
Authorities tracked down the Thompsons on Aug. 9 through cellphone numbers from a website advertising the services, according to the complaint. Marcus Thompson evaded capture. It is not clear whether Robin Thompson was caught.
Investigators said they obtained a search warrant for the Thompsons’ vehicle, which was left behind, and found a journal listing appointments, including details on what services would be provided.
Gary Milone, an attorney for Robin Thompson, declined to comment Tuesday. An attorney was not listed yet for Marcus Thompson.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Springfield, Ill., division and members of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force in Fairview Heights.