MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Macomb Township couple is charged with forcing a 29-year-old woman with disabilities to live in a shed while they advertised her sexual services online for profit.
Misty George and Michael Welch were charged Tuesday afternoon with human trafficking, prostitution/accepting earnings and using computers to commit a crime.
An anonymous tip was made Sept. 12 regarding a human-trafficking incident in the Westbridge Manor mobile home park near 21 Mile and Heydenreich roads.
Police said a 29-year-old woman who is mentally and physically disabled was found in a vacant shed near the suspects' home.
Investigators said the woman was initially allowed to stay inside the home, but she was forced to live in the shed after she couldn't afford to pay rent. She was not allowed to enter the house to use the restroom or bathe.
George and Welch were running dating advertisements for the woman through an online website. Several men responded to the advertisements and paid money for sexual services from the victim.
George and Welch are believed to be in a romantic relationship and share a residence. George was given a bond of $75,000 and Welch was given a bond of $50,000. Both are expected to appear in court Oct. 24.
After the arraignment, Welch attempted to escape custody, but was quickly apprehended after a brief foot chase, where he awaits new charges.
"George and Welch took her support money, forced her to live rough in an outside shed and sold her as a prostitute," Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said. "As your heart breaks for this vulnerable woman, your conscience is shocked by the abusive cruelty one human being is capable of showing to another."
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said human trafficking can happen anywhere. Although anyone can become a victim, the most common targets are women and children, especially those in abusive or poverty situations.
"I'm still in shock," neighbor Tracy Byers said. "They didn't seem like they were that kind of people."
Neighbors said George is a woman with special needs as well, and that Welch only had sporadic employment.
Neighbors said they told George that her boyfriend was living off of her and to get rid of him.
The couple has a 4-year-old daughter together.