DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. -- A Muncie man admitted to police he helped multiple women sell themselves for sex all to support his drug habit. One of them was a 15-year-old girl.
Delaware County deputies said their investigation began when they responded to an ad on Backpage.com. A deputy said the post offered a massage and the woman said she was 22-years-old. When the deputy scheduled the meeting, the person told him to go to an address located in Eaton, in Northern Delaware County.
Deputies then contacted the Eaton Police Department. An officer told the deputy the father of one of the possible suspects wanted to help in the investigation. According to deputies, Jessica Knight lived with her boyfriend, Austin Barnhouse, in a converted garage in the back of her parents home. Deputies said Knight's father was upset with Barnhouse's behavior after finding syringes on the property and wanted to "teach his daughter a lesson."
When deputies arrived to the house, they found open syringes, plus drug paraphernalia next to where Knight's young children sleep.
"It’s scary to say, but it’s kind of the norm. We’re kind of used to dealing with needles," a deputy said.
Barnhouse admitted he promoted at least four girls, and used a 15-year-old for prostitution to feed his heroin addiction. Court records note on one occasion, a man came to the home. Barnhouse and Knight went to the garage and the 15-year-old went inside the home. Deputies said the teen then came back an hour later with $100.
"A few years ago it was unheard of, but here in the last couple of years we’re getting more and more cases of young girls or girls that are being forced to do it," a deputy said. "To get them help is the main thing. We don’t look to charge those girls. We just look to get them help."
If you or someone you know needs help getting out of a prostitution situation, call 1-888-373-7888.