Crime

Update: 3 arrested in prostituting of girl reported missing

Kendrick McCollum
Kendrick McCollum

BILOXI ­-- Police dispatchers received a tip that a missing juvenile was in Biloxi, and when they found her, they discovered evidence indicating three adults had targeted her for human trafficking, Lt. Aldon Helmert said.

"They were prostituting her," he said.

Police found the girl and the adults Tuesday at a hotel on U.S. 90, he said. Police arrested the adults, all from Mobile, on a human-trafficking charge that applies to sexual activity for profit.

The girl had been reported missing from another area.

"The girl is safe," Helmert said, and she appeared to be in good condition.

He identified her as a juvenile but declined to give her age or to say where she is from, citing the need to protect her privacy.

State law considers anyone under age 18 a juvenile. Sixteen is the legal age of consent for sex in Mississippi.

Those arrested are Demetri Montrez Evans, 24, Kendrick Cortez McCollum, 28, and Sherrica Monique Lewis, 22.

Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain set bond for each at $100,000.

They were booked at the Harrison County jail about 4:40 a.m. Wednesday.

There are state and federal laws that apply to human trafficking.

Helmert said the case will likely be prosecuted in Harrison County Circuit Court, which prosecutes state felonies in Biloxi, D'Iberville and east Harrison County.

"When we look at the prosecution of something like this, one thing we consider is which law best suits the crime and how is society best served," Helmert said. "The facts of the case, as best we know it, lead us to believe it will be prosecuted at the state level.

Helmert said he's already received calls from area residents affiliated with a group that opposes human trafficking. They wanted to know if it involved any of the cases they are following, he said.

"In this case, as it often does, it started with a patrol call of a missing juvenile, and we found evidence indicating it was more that just a missing juvenile," Helmert said.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Biloxi police at 392-0641 and ask for the special crimes unit. Or tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-787-5898.

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