By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Three people have pleaded guilty in a stunning and depraved human trafficking, assault and torture case.
Masterminds Michael and Tamara Rhoades lured two victims to their North Philadelphia home, and then, with the third defendant, Steven Mills, took part in horrific, sadistic abuse.
Prosecutor Joe McGlynn says the vulnerable young victims were lured to the Rhoades’ home for a sexual relationship, but soon the defendants were stealing the women’s money, work, social security and college aid checks. He says they also threatened and beat their victims to prevent them from leaving.
And in February of 2012, one of the women, 20 years old, described as developmentally delayed, was subjected to unimaginable torture. Mills and Tamara Rhoades have admitted burning the victim. Mills put alcohol and bleach on her face and set her on fire. Later, Michael Rhoades joined in.
“If the witnesses were to testify,” McGlynn says, “they would have said that while she was being set on fire, both the female defendant and one of the male defendants were laughing and encouraging each other to do more damage.”
McGlynn says he expects the victims to testify at sentencing in November. The defendants remain in custody.
Michael Rhoades is expected to be sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison as part of a plea deal. The other two defendants pleaded “open,” so the sentence will be decided by the judge.