THE TATTOO on Staysha L. Hackmann's neck was nothing more than a brand: crude lettering and a fading crown, inked under her skin so the world would know she was property, a warm body who could turn tricks and make a few bucks for "King Weez."
"He wanted everybody to know I belong to him," Hackmann told a TV news reporter in Medford, Ore., in 2013. "It's his stamp."
That report, "The Secretive World of Forced Prostitution: Victim Speaks Out" by an NBC affiliate station, allowed Hackmann to talk about her ordeal, the highs and lows and hopes for the future.
Later a new pimp staked a claim on Hackmann, 2,800 miles from home, and now she's sitting in the Camden County Jail, the lines between victim and suspect blurred.
The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said Hackmann, 25, and Michelle Rolon, 21, both Voorhees Township residents, are accused of helping Michael D. Watts, 43, a township man with a history of making money off women's bodies, force a 20-year-old Texas woman to dance at a Port Richmond strip club last week after she answered a Craigslist ad for a modeling job.
On Thursday, Hackmann and Rolon allegedly chased the woman in their car and on foot after she escaped from a Voorhees hotel room where Watts allegedly had held her against her will. She made her way to a bank there and employees called police, the prosecutor's office said.
The news of Hackmann's arrest was a sad but unsurprising update for Detective Jim Williams of the Medford Police Department in Oregon. He interacted with Hackmann firsthand as she tried to put her life together and speak out against human trafficking.
"She has been a victim, too. It just shows you how deep, psychologically, this goes," Williams said yesterday afternoon. "People will look at a girl like Staysha and think she's making a conscious choice, but the reality is that she's been victimized so badly, she probably couldn't make a decision about anything on her own."
Watts allegedly lured the Texas woman to New Jersey via a Craigslist ad, and when she arrived, authorities said, Watts took her to the Cove, a strip club in Port Richmond, and told her that she had to dance. When the victim refused, authorities said, Hackmann and Rolon "allegedly stripped her down and forced her to dance in a partially nude state" there.
Watts, according to the prosector's office, told the victim that she belonged to him. There would be "consequences," he allegedly told her, if she tried to leave, and he took away her cellphone and money. The victim then was forced to dance at the Cove on July 14 and 15 and later was taken to an apartment on Bibbs Road in Voorhees.
David Glassman, a Philadelphia lawyer who said he's representing both Watts and the Cove, said: "The Cove had nothing to do with this. It's a trip to Fantasy Island." He said Watts plans to aggressively fight the case.
Like Staysha Hackmann's captor in Oregon, Watts liked to mark his women - making them paint "Chris," one of his many aliases, on their fingernails or have it tattooed on their ankles, according to a 2008 criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Watts was accused of laundering money and operating an interstate prostitution ring in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware from an office on Delaware Avenue in Philadelphia at the time and, according to the complaint, required his women to work six days a week, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and to bring in $3,000 to $3,500 per week.
The pay, according to the complaint, was $150 to $300 per week, and women who didn't make their numbers had to work Sundays to make it up. Watts' longest-tenured prostitute, whom he called his "Bottom Bitch," would help enforce the rules, the complaint says.
Watts advertised his "escort service" in the City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly and Philadelphia Magazine, according to the 2008 complaint, and used the name "Broken Innocence" for one of his corporations. Watts, who served a previous sentence for gun and drug convictions, was sentenced to 96 months in prison for the 2008 case and was released in April 2013.
Watts is being held in the Camden County Jail on $500,000 bail since his arrest Friday. He faces charges of first-degree human trafficking and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. The victim he lured to New Jersey is back with her family, authorities said.
Hackmann and Rolon both are charged with third-degree criminal restraint and are being held on $25,000 bail.
Hackmann's mother, Shawna Allen, said by phone from Oregon yesterday that she thought her daughter was in California. She said that her daughter was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and that trauma has followed her everywhere.
"She's been in a couple of different treatment programs and was getting help," Allen said. "I don't want to sit here and say she's 100 percent the victim, but the whole situation is so complicated."
When asked whether Hackmann and Rolon could have been victims of human trafficking themselves, Voorhees Township Detective Sgt. Chuck Fowler said that was part of the ongoing investigation.
Hackmann, speaking to the Oregon television station in 2013, talked about her life of fear with another man, "King Weez":
"You don't see the emotional, mental and physical abuse that's happening behind closed doors that's making me afraid to leave, afraid to go anywhere else because this person has threatened my life many times," Hackmann said. "This person has told me if I leave they'll hunt me down and kill my family."