Hotel workers in St. Louis are alerted police about two Florida women who reported they were kidnapped, per a new report.
Around 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, St. Louis police received a “bizarre call” from Hampton Inn employees. When their alleged captors left them alone, two women told hotel staff they’d been kidnapped.
The abducted women – ages 21 and 36 – said they were hired for a Florida “moving job.” But over 10 days, their kidnappers moved them from Florida to Atlanta to St. Louis, the women claimed.
“In Atlanta, they were told they wouldn’t be allowed to leave. They were driven from Atlanta to St. Louis and checked into this hotel, kept with three people,” said Sgt. Charles Wall of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
KTVI reported the victims were “scared about what might be next” upon arriving in St. Louis.
Police responded to the hotel workers’ call and arrested one suspect, 41-year-old Nikki Rebarcak, when she returned to the hotel. She was charged with two felony kidnapping counts.
The other two suspects fled. Shockingly, Judge Elizabeth Hogan released Rebarcak without bail despite the serious charges.
Senator Josh Hawley was reportedly upset the trafficking suspect was let go. “It’s often hard to prosecute traffickers who hide behind a ‘legitimate business.’ They intimidate victims,” he told KTVI.
Police said the investigation is ongoing. One escaped suspect has been identified and officers are attempting to locate the alleged trafficker.
Sgt. Wall said investigators will contact agencies nationwide to determine if this connects to a larger trafficking ring.
“Similar incidents with other agencies can indicate some type of ring,” he explained.
The case highlights concerns about human trafficking often going undetected and unpunished. Advocates argue stiffer penalties and better victim support are needed to combat trafficking.
Skeptics question if this was an actual kidnapping or some other dispute. They caution against assumptions until more facts emerge.
Either way, the hotel workers likely prevented further harm by speaking up. Their actions show everyday citizens can make a difference in fighting crime if they stay alert.
With trafficking generating billions annually, authorities continue battling sophisticated networks while trying to aid victims. One small case in St. Louis underscores the challenges in tackling this complex global scourge.