OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - A mother and daughter were arrested Wednesday in Osceola County on charges of running a brothel out of a house in the gated Veranda community of Poinciana.
Three children were found in a locked room by undercover officers when they arrived at the house.
The officers were posing as potential customers, deputies said.
"They made arrangements to meet up with these women at one of their residences and when they arrived, they were solicited for sex," Osceola County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain said.
Deputies said the woman tried to negotiate a $120 fee for sex.
Investigators do not believe the children were involved in the prostitution operation.
Tracy Mowatt, 49, and her daughter, Leslie Mowatt, 28, were targeted by investigators after authorities spotted an ad posted by the pair on Backpage.com, deputies said.
The ad describes a, “pretty, mixed, thick chick” apparently in reference to Mowatt.
“When deputies arrived, the children were locked in a back bedroom,” Lizasuain said. “There were two 10-year-olds and a 5-year-old, and they did belong to the women.”
Both women were charged with child neglect and offering to engage in prostitution. Leslie Mowatt was also charged with possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
"The blinds were always drawn, the grass was always uncut. It just looked like, it didn't look like a welcoming place like the rest of the houses in the neighborhood," neighbor Chris Leathe said.
Both women were being held at the Osceola County Jail.
The Florida Department of Children and Families said the children have been placed with a relative.
A man who lived in the home told Channel 9 he had no idea what was going on under his own roof.
“I reside in a house that has now become a media circus,” said Ken D’Amico.
D’Amico owns the home and lived with the women. He told Channel 9 that he was shocked by the allegations, but doesn’t plan to help the women by posting their bond.
“I don’t have the money and there is a big story behind this, but I’m not telling it. And that is all I have to say,” D’Amico said.
He said the three children found in the room while the alleged prostitution was going on will be better off.
“The right thing was done and the three children in question, that I am sure is why this has blown up, are now in good hands,” said D’Amico.
Deputies said they are not investigating D’Amico for any wrongdoing in the case.
A relative is taking care of the three children, per orders from the Department of Children and Families.
If the Mowatts bond out of jail, a judge said they will have to stay away from each other.
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