A south Baton Rouge couple alleged to have been running a prostitution enterprise out of their home in the Shiloh subdivision were arrested Tuesday, after neighbors noticed suspicious activity at the house, gathered evidence and alerted police.
Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman, said neighbors contacted the department recently about suspicious activity at the house, especially the high volume of traffic coming and going at different times of the day.
Detectives opened an investigation and conducted a sting operation.
“When we ran our sting, we were able to gather enough evidence to make our arrest,” McKneely said.
Police booked Charles R. Smith, 43, and Kaelice Smith, 38, both of 14736 Colonel Allen Court, into Parish Prison each on counts of prostitution, possession of marijuana, possession of Schedule II drugs and improper supervision of a minor, prison records show.
The home is in a middle class suburban neighborhood near Millerville and South Harrell’s Ferry roads.
A man standing outside the house Wednesday afternoon, later identified as the father of one of the suspects, declined to comment on the situation.
McKneely said detectives found Kaelice Smith’s post on the website backpage.com, and called to set up a time to meet her at her house. He said police routinely monitor the website and use it to conduct prostitution stings.
“We know that a lot of ladies are using that as a means to solicit prostitution,” he said.
The undercover detective arrived at the Colonel Allen Court house, which the woman shared with her husband and two children, ages 7 and 12, about 4:30 p.m., according to affidavits of probable cause.
Kaelice Smith agreed to perform a sex act for $100, the affidavits state, and was taken into custody after soliciting the officer.
She admitted to having drugs in the house and police found one gram of marijuana and methadone and Oxycodone pills, the affidavits say.
Police also found the woman’s two children in a back room.
McKneely said finding children in a room or house is uncommon during prostitution arrests.
Smith told police her husband knew about the prostitution business and had left the house shortly before police arrived to pay bills with the money she made from it. She said he ordinarily took the children for a ride when the men arrived at their house, the affidavits state.
Charles Smith was arrested when he returned home.
Neighbors in the subdivision said Wednesday they knew something out of the ordinary was going on when they started seeing cars coming and going at all times of the day.
They said Kaelice Smith never left the house — two said they never saw her before the arrest — and that the constant flow of traffic at the house was unusual.
Some people would stay for a minute and some would stay for an hour, making the excuse Kaelice Smith gave neighbors, that she was an English tutor, difficult to believe, Joanne Tamondong said.
“I mean who would tutor for a few seconds, then leave?” she said, adding the guys who would go to the house looked to be in their mid-30s and too old to be in school.
Tamondong said she did not know the Smiths very well because she has only lived in the subdivision for a few months. However, she said, she noticed things were not as they seemed in an otherwise idyllic neighborhood and other neighbors noticed it as well.
Thomas Bergan who lives down the street from the Smith home said other neighbors began taking pictures and keeping a record of the cars that visited the house.
He said it turned out to be the same five men in the same five cars visiting the house every week.
The worst part for him, Bergan said, is that he knows the two young children in the house because they sometimes played with his children. He said they appeared to be severely neglected by their parents.
Bergan said he allowed the children to visit his house but said he forbade his own children from going to their house.
“It’s sad,” he said.
Eric Dexter, who lived a few houses down from the Smiths, said he never really paid much attention to the house and never noticed any unusual volume of traffic there.
He said that most of the times when he would pass the house, he would see the children playing outside and never thought anything was wrong.
Dexter said it was amazing that something like that was “flying under the radar in the suburbs of Baton Rouge.”