Police find missing St. Louis County teen in online escort ad; pimp pleads guilty

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ST. LOUIS, MO — Investigators found an image of a missing St. Louis County teen in an escort advertisement on Backpage.com in January 2017. They met the missing 15-year-old during a prostitution visit at an area hotel. Investigators were able to retrieve her. Now, Sean McChord O’Donnell, 52, is pleading guilty to charges of racketeering, involving the use of interstate facilities to promote prostitution between November 2016 and January 2017.

A release from the US Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Missouri says that O’Donnell visited the First Western Inn on North Broadway, in St. Louis to meet with a 21-year-old prostitute in November 2016. He met with her to, "engage in commercial sex acts." They say O’Donnell acted as her pimp and posted online ads on her behalf to escort and prostitution websites.

During that late November visit O'Donnell met a 15-year-old in the hotel lobby.  They say she recently left her pimp. He gave her his card and told him to call her. Investigators say O’Donnell subsequently engaged in commercial sex acts with the teen.

O'Donnell rented several hotel rooms for the teen between November 2016 and January 2017 in St. Louis City and County.  She had no identification.  He is also accused of taking pictures of the scantily clad teen and sending them to others.  He paid to post the pictures as advertisements to Backpage.com using his email address.  Police say he also continued to engage in commercial sex acts with her.

St. Louis County Police have been looking for her since September 2016.  The discovered her image in an advertisement on Backpage.com on January 23, 2017.  They arranged a meeting at the Econolodge on Woodson Road, in a room rented by O’Donnell. On January 24, 2017, officers were able to locate and retrieve Jane Doe from a motel room.

O’Donnell has pled guilty to one felony count of racketeering using interstate facilities to promote, manage, establish and carry on the unlawful activity of prostitution. Sentencing has been set for March 18, 2018.  This charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the St. Louis County Police, Bridgeton Police, St. Charles County Police and the FBI.

If you know someone who may be involved with sex-trafficking and needs help, click here.


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