SPOKANE, Wash. - A woman who told investigators she was held captive for the last year against her will, sold for sex, and forced to take methamphetamine at homes and motels across Spokane Valley, has led to the arrest of four people in one of the first reported cases of human trafficking in Spokane County.
A victim came forward to investigators this week and said she'd been held captive, mostly at a home on the 13,000 block of East Nora in Spokane Valley, forced to perform sexual acts and forced to take drugs.
KHQ is not identifying the woman because she is the victim of sexual abuse.
The woman told detectives she was taken to various motels and hotels in Spokane Valley, put in a room, and told what type of sex acts to perform. She says the arrangements were made through online ads such as Craigslist.com and Backpage.com.
The victim reported she was last raped on Monday, May 21st. The next day, court documents say, she ran away from a home on First and Haven because she was scared. The woman ran to her friend's house and told the friend about her alleged captivity in a Spokane Valley home. Together, the two women went to the Public Safety Building and the victim retold her story to local law enforcement. The victim agreed to accompany detectives back to the home on East Nora where she said she was largely held captive.
Wednesday, The SWAT team raided the small, bright blue house on the 13,000 block of East Nora and arrested Lawrence Johnson, 43, his wife, Dina Tellez, 43, Christopher Foster, 33, and Shanell Haddon, 28.
Johnson made his first court appearance Wednesday and is charged with first-degree kidnapping. The other three appeared in court Thursday afternoon on first-degree trafficking charges.
According to court documents, the four suspects typically drove the victim to the hotels and gave her instructions on what type of sex acts to perform. The woman said she "was forced to take drugs, mainly to smoke Meth." She said that she has been forced to engage in sex with the men she named as her captors as well as their friends, sometimes "at gunpoint."
Spokane County Deputy Craig Chamberlain said, "Everything that our victim said was going to be in the residence, basically everything was corroborated. So she's being very helpful with the investigation. This is a very unique, complicated investigation so there is a lot more work that has to be done within this investigation."
The woman also told investigators about a man nicknamed Spade - who she guessed was about 60 years old - was the ringleader of the alleged operation. She said Spade owned four other homes that were all involved in methamphetamine manufacturing. While the victim stated that she'd been "moved around" to the other homes, she said she mostly lived and stayed at the home on East Nora. The victim said "Spade always got the money for the sex acts she was forced to perform." Investigators didn't have any information about Spade as of Thursday afternoon.
She added that she was beaten up, burned, and intimidated with threats that she would "end up dead" if she left.
The Spokane County Sheriffs Office says intimidation, threats and forced drug use are all common ways criminals keep their victims under control.
"When people hear kidnapping of trafficking humans, they automatically think there has to be some type of physical restraint," Deputy Chamberlain continued. "Basically, being confined to a certain area. That's not necessarily the case ... As far as the emotional stress on these people - kind of the manipulation - all of those can compile to feel like they have absolutely nowhere else to go."
According to court documents, the woman said there were several shotguns and handguns inside the home.
Detectives Search For More Possible Victims:
In addition to her own alleged captivity, the victim told investigators she saw other young girls whom she believes are also being held against their will.
The victim told detectives she saw four or five young girls sitting on a bed in the basement of that home four days ago. She said there "was a dead bolt lock on the door at the top of the basement stairs." When detectives served a search warrant on the home this week, they found the bed in the basement. They also found a "large amount of stolen property strewn about the house, including tools and laptop computers."
Detectives also observed "a large amount of foot traffic and vehicle traffic" while they watched the house for several hours prior to executing the search warrant. Detectives also saw "several cars leave, some of which contained young females."
On Thursday, a detective with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said more victims could be identified.
Victim's Former Boyfriend Murdered for Helping?
The woman told authorities she believed the same group of suspects named in this case murdered her former boyfriend Marcus Allen Schur. She said he "tried to help her and protect her from the people who held her captive." He was murdered in Whitman County in December and she said that caused her "further fear."
Marcus Schur was killed at a Malden home and his body was discovered by a fisherman in a creek that runs in to Bonnie Lake. Police investigated it as a homicide because they say Schur died from a massive hemorrhage from multiple gunshot wounds.
Four men including Travis Carlon, Eli Lindsey and brothers Frank and Daniel Lazcano were arrested for Schur's killing.
Lawrence Johnson made his first appearance Wednesday, where a judge set his bond at $20,000 on the kidnapping charge. Foster, Haddon and Tellez all appeared before Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza Thursday afternoon on first-degree kidnapping charges. The judge set Foster and Haddon's bonds at $150,000 while he set Tellez's bond at $10,000.
A fifth person named in court documents as having been involved in the trafficking operation was Trevor Franklin. Franklin was previously arrested on a assault charge for attacking the victim; he pleaded guilty in Judge Cozza's courtroom on April 23 on a charge of third-degree assault. Court documents state he assaulted the victim in this case. He is now serving one year and a day in prison at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.
Chamberlain said the investigation into this case is ongoing. If you have any information about the case, call Crime Check at 509-456-2233