Before authorities say a 13-year-old girl was forced to dance nude at a Miami Beach strip club, she was reported as a runaway.
In December, her mother alerted police she was missing. Authorities at the time noted in the police report that she was a habitual runaway.
In a recorded interview released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office the girl told a Miami Police detective she had left home before and talked about how she was forced to have sex for money.
The detective asked who wanted her to do that, and she replied, “My friend Vitto,” referring to a suspect in the case.
"So I can make money he was like I am going to take half of your money and I am going to give you some,” she explained.
Just last month, the teen was reunited with her mother. But on Thursday evening, her family was searching for her once again. A police car showed up at their Miami-Dade home after her grandmother alerted authorities that she is missing.
Four people have been arrested and charged with human trafficking in the case, including 36-year-old Vilbert “Vitto” Jean and 22-year-old Marlene San Vincente, a former Club Madonna dancer. The 13-year-old told police how she ended up dancing there.
"She was like I’m going to take you to my club,” the teen recounted a woman who she calls “Taty” saying to her. “I said ‘No I don’t want to work at a strip club.’"
The minor claimed that one of the men in the home where she was staying threatened that if she didn’t dance, he would beat her up.
Earlier this month, in a jailhouse interview, San Vincente maintained her innocence. She said she did not know the teen was underage. In fact, she said, the girl introduced herself as an 18-year-old.
"The same way as everybody sees it, I see it. I'm not OK with anybody exploiting anybody, I’m not OK with pimping, or whatever the name is, I’m not OK with that," she said.
San Vincente’s defense attorney says the new development involving the 13-year-old girl could impact the prosecution’s case.
"Well for my client without a victim, there's no way to prosecute the case, there's no way to investigate the case, there's no way to go forward. The state would have to dismiss it if she disappeared," defense attorney Yehuda D.B Bruck said.
He added that being a habitual runaway bolsters what his client claims – that the minor represented herself as an adult.
“It really jives with my client’s position that here is a girl that is having problems at home that runs away. She has to represent herself as an 18-year-old to get around because if people knew she was 13 they would call the police right away,” Bruck said.
It was unclear how long the girl has been missing. Her grandmother did not wish to comment.