An alleged sex trafficker and his accomplice are behind bars after a teen girl made an escape from their grasp and contacted police.
On March 25, 2019, a 15-year-old girl reported herself as a runaway to the Myrtle Beach Police Department in South Carolina. The teen told officers that she met a man named “Rico” on the “Monkey” chat app. At the time, the teen told Rico, who’s been identified as Johnny Thomas, that she was 16.
According to court documents, the victim, identified as MV1 (minor victim 1), decided to meet Thomas in person after video chatting and texting with him for several weeks. She met him at a gas station in Clarksburg, West Virginia, after they discussed her running away from her grandmother’s house.
MV1 had a friend drive her to the gas station, where she met Thomas at around 2 a.m. She then left with the suspect and ended up in Richmond, Virginia, where they checked into a Days Inn, court documents state.
MV1 said she met another underage female at the hotel, identified in court documents as MV2. According to MV1, another person at the hotel, identified as 25-year-old Becca Mills, told her that Thomas would not hurt her as long as she did everything he asked.
When Mills and MV2 left the hotel to make “plays,” MV1 said Thomas had sex with her. Later, Mills and MV2 returned with a large sum of money, they explained to her that they wanted her to have sex in exchange for money, court documents state.
While everyone was sleeping later, MV1 tried to escape the hotel room, but Thomas allegedly woke up, grabbed her and dragged her back into the hotel room.
“You’re my bi***, where do you think you’re going?” Thomas allegedly asked the victim.
The following day, Thomas took the minor victims to a commercial sex photoshoot in North Carolina, where they were made to pose for ads. Thomas later made the minors have sex with an older man at a Knight’s Inn motel. VM1 said at one point, the older man choked her until she passed out. She “woke up in a shower and was bleeding from her vagina.”
Thomas then allegedly instructed MV1 to call him “daddy” and to never look anyone in the eyes and follow his directions. Mills and MV1 then went on numerous “calls” together, court records state.
When the group traveled to South Carolina to sell drugs and run “plays,” MV1 said she told Thomas that she was bleeding and feeling sick. At that point, Thomas allegedly became upset and told the victim that he would have her sold and tortured.
“MV1 stated Thomas told her numerous times if she did not perform commercial sex acts and make money for him that he would sell her, and that Thomas would sell her to someone worse than him,” the complaint read.
“MV1 stated Thomas said people would chain her up to a bed, shoot her full of heroin, and do ‘bad’ things to her. MV1 stated Thomas told her he could get $1,500 for selling her. MV1 stated Thomas told her this person would slice her toes and body parts off.”
MV1 said she performed several sexual acts with men in South Carolina before she eventually escaped. Authorities arrested Thomas and Mills on charges of child sex trafficking and coercion and enticement of minors.
It’s not clear why there was a two-year delay between the suspects’ arrests and their federal prosecution. Check back for updates.
If you or someone you know have information relevant to the investigation, contact the HSI Tipline at 1-866-347-3423.
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[Feature Photo: Johnny Thomas & Becca Mills/Police Handout]