ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A teenage boy was kept as a sex slave in a filthy trailer for nearly a year and the seven people responsible have been charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking and interference with custody, according to St. Petersburg Police.

  • All 7 suspects in custody, Curtis Gruwell, 45, turned himself in Tuesday
  • Detectives said trailer discovered in May 2018 after another teen lured there
  • Conspirators believed to have used online game to lure victims
  • More Pinellas County stories

“We want to be clear. These adults preyed on these children,” said St. Petersburg Police Major Mark Hensley. “They will now answer for their crimes.” 

On Monday, Mark Dennis, 52, Andrew Dennis, 45, Michael Schwartz, 51, Michael Blasdel, 36, J.R. Gauthier, 29 and Eleanor McGlamory, 56, were arrested on those human trafficking charges.

The last suspect, Curtis Gruwell, 45, was taken into custody Tuesday morning when he turned himself in to authorities.

Mark Dennis, Andrew Dennis, Blasdel and Gauthier were also charged with sexual battery with a child under the age of 16. Police said the four men lived in a trailer at 4000 24th St. N. in St. Petersburg, where they forced the teen to sleep on a small mattress on the floor. 

Photo: Josh Rojas/Spectrum Bay News 9

Lured "with promises of a better life"

Hensley said the victim is from Marion County and met McGlamory, who then introduced the boy to the Dennis’, a married couple.

New Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody called this case an example of what she works daily to combat. 

“The teenage victim in this case was lured away from his family with promises of a better life,” Moody said. “Instead, he was moved into a filthy trailer and used a sex slave for nearly a year.”

Detectives said they discovered the trailer last May when Louisiana authorities asked officers to check on a 17-year-old boy who was missing. Officers found that boy, who said the suspects lured him on Discord, an online gaming app.

Police don’t believe that 17-year-old boy was sexually abused, but that’s also when they discovered the victim, who had turned 16-years-old by that time.

The victim is receiving specialized trauma-informed care designed for victims of human trafficking and is thriving. The eight-month long investigation was completed by the new St. Petersburg Police HEAT unit.

Detectives want parents to monitor their child’s online activity and who they’re communicating with while playing online video games.