GREER, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – A 21-year-old woman from Greer is one of eight women found inside a Georgia mansion this month. Sandy Springs Police say at least 6 of them claim they were held against their will for months and forced to work as strippers in area clubs.
Police say the women met 33-year-old Kendrick Roberts online and he promised them money and a job. They say after meeting, Roberts had the girls branded with tattoos, forced them to strip for money the he pocketed and threatened violence to keep them quiet.
Many of these women are now with friends and family, according to police, including the young woman with a Greer address.
It’s the fact they’re free from captivity that is giving hope to local victims’ advocates who say too many don’t get out. In this case, a 911 call from one of the women tipped off police.
“What do you mean you’re in a bad situation and you’re trying to get out? What does that mean,” the dispatcher questions in the released 911 call.
“It’s a house full of girls and he threatened that if I try to leave that he’ll try to kill me,” said the 20 year old who went on to explain she had had been drugged, branded and forced with other captives to work as strippers.
“Who’s threatening to kill you? One of the girls,” says the dispatcher.
“No, our boss,” the woman says.
The “boss”, according to police reports, was Roberts. He was arrested this month for human trafficking, false imprisonment and felony weapons charges.
CBS 46 in Atlanta talked to a mother of one of the victims.
“He made them think he was going to help them achieve this life and, you know, where they can take care of themselves and then after he got them, he gave them all these gifts and everything, then the guns came out. The threats came out,” the woman explained.
7 News reached out to the family of the Greer woman, but they were not home.
Zaina Greene, Executive Director of Switch, a human trafficking awareness agency in the Upstate, called the case “revealing.”
“It’s not a shock that [it is] someone from Greer – none of us are exempt from falling prey to something like this and it is happening here so much,” said Greenville
With Greenville sitting on the I-85 corridor, Greene says the Upstate is a direct target from saturated cities like Atlanta. Traffickers will often target women through internet sites. That’s what happened in this case, according to police.
“Unfortunately, it’s more common than we get to expose and see, but this is a real issue that is real common,” said Greene.
What’s different, according to Greene, is the 911 call. She said, too often, victims fear getting killed.
“It’s very uncommon that they reach out, but when they do, we are always so thankful,” said Greene.
To learn more about human trafficking prevention, click HERE.