TACOMA — A man searching for his 15-year-old runaway stepdaughter discovered she was being pimped online through an ad on Backpage.com and he and a friend set up a sting that led to her rescue and that of another underage girl at a motel near Tacoma.
Two men accused of selling the two underage runaways for sex were arrested at the same time.
The Motel 6 motel in Fife, Wash., is where police say the two missing 15-year-old girls were being held and prostituted through an ad on Backpage.com.
Police said 25-year-old Samuel Miles-Johnson and 24-year-old Joshua Jones set up the entire thing, but they never counted on one of the girl’s stepfathers finding the ad and coming after them.
“He was surfing Backpage.com, just hoping to find something with her on it,” said Lt. Tom Thompson of the Fife Police Department. “He found an ad with his daughter; it was a sexually explicit, prostitution ad.”
Court documents say the unidentified stepfather had a friend pose as a customer and then make contact through the sex ad. The friend was told to come to the motel in Fife.
Once the friend positively identified the missing teen in a room there, the stepfather called police. Cops then found her and a second runaway teen in the room at the motel.
“These two guys had two 15-year-olds in the room with them that were missing from their parents and they claimed they didn’t know anything that was going on,” said Thompson.
Johnson and Jones were both arraigned in Pierce County Superior Court on Tuesday charged with promoting prostitution of a minor. They pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $500,000 each.
Detectives regularly scour online ads to crack down on underage prostitution. While they appreciate the stepdad’s motives, one officer said he’d rather have the public leave the detective work to them.
“As a police officer, I don’t condone that. I’m telling him, Hey, it’s dangerous, you have to be careful when you don’t know who you’re dealing with,” Thompson said. “As a father, I understand why he did it and that he wanted to get his daughter back as fast as possible.”