The Shelby Community Foundation held a luncheon just weeks ago in which they focused on human trafficking. Their ominous warning that “this happens in our area” came true this week when Macomb County Sheriff’s Office announced that they had made two arrests regarding a human trafficking incident that was occurring in the Westbridge Manor mobile home park located near 21 Mile Rd and Heydenreich in Macomb Township.
Information was given on September 12 from an anonymous source that a 29-year-old white female with both mental and physical disabilities was being housed in a vacant shed near the suspects’ home. The victim was originally allowed to stay within the home and was eventually moved to the shed after she could not afford to pay the rent that the suspects demanded. The victim was not allowed in the home to use the restroom or shower. The suspects set up date advertisements for the victim through an online website. Several men responded to these advertisements and paid money to the suspects for sexual services from the victim.
Once the victim left the mobile home park, her family discovered what had occurred and contacted police. This case was investigated by the MACE unit (Macomb Area Computer Enforcement) who interviewed multiple people and investigated the allegations further. Information was submitted to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office and warrants were issued for both suspects.
Both suspects were arraigned in the 41-A Shelby district court on Tuesday. Misty George, 30, of Macomb Twp., was arraigned on three felony counts; Human Trafficking, Using a Computer to Commit a Crime, and Prostitution.
Michael Welch, 38, also of Macomb Twp., was arraigned on two felony counts; Human Trafficking, and Prostitution.
George and Welch are believed to be in a dating relationship and do reside together. George was given a bond of $75,000 and Welch was given a bond of $50,000. Both are due to appear back in court on October 24.
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith stated, “Instead of helping this profoundly special-needs person, George and Welch took her support money, forced her to live rough in an outside shed, and sold her as a prostitute. 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.”
“The Sheriff and the Prosecutor’s Office are resolved to bring some measure of justice to this young woman, and to get her the support and treatment she needs.”
After the arraignment process, Welch attempted to escape as he entered the Sheriff’s transport vehicle. A brief foot chase ensued and he was quickly captured. He was returned to the Macomb County Jail where he awaits new charges for that attempted escape.
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham reminds people that human trafficking can happen anywhere. Although anyone can become a victim, the most targeted victims are women and children, especially those in abusive or poverty situations. “Be wary of opportunities that seem too good to be true and always be aware of your surroundings. Parents are urged to monitor their children’s social media accounts and look into those people who associate with your children.”