Missing Marion County boy was used as 'sex slave,' police say

7 arrested in Florida in human trafficking case

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A missing 16-year-old Marion County boy was found in a St. Petersburg trailer, where he was used as a "sex slave" in a human trafficking case, police said.

Five men and a woman were arrested Monday in connection with the case, and the seventh suspect turned himself in to St. Petersburg police Tuesday, officials said.

St. Petersburg police said an investigation began May 9, when a Louisiana law enforcement agency contacted the authorities with information that a missing 17-year-old boy from Louisiana was at a mobile home at 4000 24th Street North in St. Petersburg.

Investigators said they believe the victim was lured through Discord, an online gaming app that allows users to communicate directly with each other. Police said the suspects used Discord to coordinate picking the teen up and taking him to St. Petersburg.

3 ways to report human trafficking or get help:
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373-7888
Text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733
Or visit humantraffickinghotline.org

According to police, when officers arrived at the home, they found the missing teen and discovered the 16-year-old Marion County boy, who was living in the trailer with four adults, identified by officials as: Mark Earl Dennis, Andrew Barry Dennis, Curtis Lee Gruwell and Michael Wayne Schwartz. Police said Gruwell turned himself in Tuesday.

Police said Mark Dennis claimed to be the 16-year-old’s biological father, but he had no documentation. Both teens were removed from the home.

An investigation revealed that Mark Dennis was not the boy's father, and it was discovered the teen was reported missing in Marion County, police said. Eleven months earlier, a family acquaintance, Eleanor Faye McGlamory, befriended the boy and introduced him to Mark and Andrew Dennis, who lived in St. Petersburg, officials said.

In May 2017, the teen’s mother found a note from her son saying not to look for him, according to police. According to authorities, the then-15-year-old was lured with the promise of a better life, but was moved into a filthy trailer and lived with four men. The boy did not attend school or medical care, police said.

"For the next year, he was introduced to sadomasochism and used as a sex slave by Mark and Andrew Dennis, Gruwell, Schwartz, and their associates, Michael Ray Blasdel and JR Gauthier," police said in a statement. 

The boy is now receiving specialized trauma-informed care designed for victims of human trafficking and is thriving, according to officials.

The suspects face several charges:

Mark Earl Dennis, DOB 7-16-1966, 1617 Moore Avenue, Lehigh Acres, FL 

  • Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking
  • Interference with Custody
  • Sexual Battery (with a child under age 16)

Andrew Barry Dennis, DOB 4-5-1973, 1617 Moore Avenue, Lehigh Acres, FL

  • Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking
  • Interference with Custody
  • Sexual Battery (with a child under age 16)

Curtis Lee Gruwell, DOB 7-25-1984, 1617 Moore Avenue, Lehigh Acres, FL

  • Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking
  • Interference with Custody

Michael Wayne Schwartz, DOB 8-17-1967, 1617 Moore Avenue, Lehigh Acres, FL

  • Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking
  • Interference with Custody

Michael Ray Blasdel, DOB 3-17-1982, 4428 4th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL

  • Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking
  • Interference with Custody
  • Transmission of material harmful to minors to a minor
  • Sexual Battery (with a child under age 16)
  • Sexual Battery (with a child under age 16)

JR Gauthier, DOB 4-16-1989, 4428 4th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL

  • Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking
  • Interference with Custody
  • Sexual Battery (with a child under age 16)

Eleanor Faye McGlamory, DOB 6-23-1962, 535 NE 170th Ct., Silver Springs, FL 

  • Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking
  • Interference with Custody
     

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