According to court documents, on Tuesday, 49-year-old Renee M. Collins was charged with second-degree trafficking of a child under the age 18 and first-degree child endangerment.
Her partner, 44-year-old William A. Thomas Jr. of Rocheport, was also charged with first-degree rape of the 14-year-old victim, according to the court documents.
Warrants were issued for the arrest of the pair and bond is set at a cash-only $200,000 for each of them. No attorney is currently listed for Collins or Thomas Jr. in the court filings.
The charges stem from an investigation back on July 7, 2017, into reported human trafficking at the Welcome Inn hotel in Columbia, located at 1612 N. Providence Rd. The investigation was headed by the FBI and Columbia Police Department.
Federal agents had received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that the 14-year-old disabled victim was being left inside rooms with strange men.
After the FBI and Columbia Police Department received the tip, authorities went to the Welcome Inn hotel to investigate. A witness informed them of an incident where two men had offered Collins cocaine to have sex with the victim. The witness said she asked the young victim about the men, and the victim described to the witness the sexual activity that was taking place and referred to them as “just the bad men.”
Authorities went to the room to take the 14-year-old disabled girl into protective custody. In court documents, they detailed how the room was filthy and no one was present. The witness told authorities they saw the suspects packing a truck and overheard that they were moving out of town.
The 14-year-old girl was located later that day and placed in protective custody right away.
Authorities later interviewed the girl, who according to court documents is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism, is partially deaf, uses corrective leg braces and has the mental capacity of a 2- to 3-year-old child.
The young victim told authorities she had been raped in exchange for cocaine for her mother. During other interviews over the course of the year, investigators were able to obtain more information about the abuse of the minor.
The 14-year-old girl told investigators that her mother was present at the hotel when she was raped by men, which she referred to as her “mom’s boyfriends,” according to court documents.
The young girl said her mother would “loan” her to the men at motels and also at her home. Her mother Renee M. Collins would then receive money and “medicine,” referring to narcotics.
The victim told investigators she was also raped by Thomas Jr., who she referred to as “uncle Bill” in court documents.
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