2 arrested during Austintown prostitution investigation

Jerome McKnight and Lakisha Barnes

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Two people were arrested Wednesday afternoon during an investigation of prostitution-related advertisements on Backpage.com.

An undercover Austintown officer contacted a number listed on an advertisement on Backpage.

The advertisement in the Dating section of the website read, “Looking for a special someone to spend the evening with. Someone out going and tons of FUN! If YOUR THAT LUCKY GUY, IM YOUR LUCKY.. GIRL.. TRUCKER FRIENDLY.. PARTY FRIENDLY.. FETISH FRIENDLY.. NO BLACK MEN, UNDER 40.. NO BLOCKED CALLS [sic],” according to a police report.

The officer began texting the number and said a woman who identified herself as “Tamera” agreed to a price as well as an “extra donation,” the report said.

Police said the officer agreed to meet the woman at a location on State Route 46. Police said 31-year-old Lakisha Barnes, of Farrell, arrived and identified herself as “Tamera.”

Barnes was then arrested.

Police said two men arrived at the location with Barnes. The driver of the car, 32-year-old Jerome McKnight, of Sharon, initially gave police a false name, according to the report.

McKnight told police that he lied because he thought he had a warrant for his arrest. He told police he was transporting Barnes to meet a “friend” for gas money.

Barnes told police that she does meet men but said she doesn’t have sex with them, rather she takes their money and runs prior to any sexual activity, the police report said.

Police said Barnes had over 200 advertisements using her phone number.

Police said Barnes also admitted that she has a drug habit but “not an addiction” and only continues using drugs so she doesn’t have withdrawals. Police said she was found with a crack pipe in her book bag.

She was charged with soliciting sex, possession of criminal tools and drug paraphernalia.

McKnight was charged with falsification and promoting prostitution.

Barnes and McKnight were taken to the Mahoning County Jail and are both due in court at 9 a.m. May 31.