JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Jacksonville police have charged a Hope Mills couple who they say kidnapped a woman and forced her to work as a prostitute.
Robin Applewhite, 36, and Samantha Rivard, 29, both of 3668 Applegate Road, were arrested Sunday after Jacksonville police responding to a complaint of possible prostitution at Baymont Inn & Suites found a woman who said she was forced to travel from Cumberland County to Jacksonville and was being held in sexual servitude.
Both face charges of human trafficking, felony conspiracy and numerous drug charges. Applewhite is also charged with first-degree kidnapping.
Both were in the Onslow County jail Tuesday afternoon – Applewhite on an $800,000 bond and Rivard on a $700,000 bond.
The couple's Hope Mills neighbors said Tuesday that Applewhite and Rivard moved into their home about two years ago, put up security cameras outside and often had visitors.
Some said that they were not surprised by the arrests or accusations.
"I had the idea that was going on," said Joe Locklear, who lives across the street from the couple. "I've seen a lot of people in and out – different vehicles, girls driving different vehicles."
But the two hadn't been seen in weeks, neighbors said.
On July 11, according to Fayetteville police, the two were arrested at Candlewood Suites off Sycamore Dairy Road. Investigators said they were using a room to sell drugs and solicit clients for prostitution.
Applewhite's criminal history, according to court records, includes convictions on multiple charges such as common law robbery, drug possession, trespassing and selling drugs. He also faces at least two dozen felony charges from this year.
Rivard's record includes an outstanding shoplifting charge and some traffic-related citations.
According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Human Trafficking, North Carolina ranks among the top 10 states for sex trafficking, a $32 billion criminal industry.