EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 13, 2007

Police: Teen call girls grateful they were caught

NORTH ANDOVER - They drank champagne, were promised vacations in the Bahamas and made up to $300 per hour.

But it was a lifestyle two teenage prostitutes said they were desperate to escape.

The girls told investigators they were glad they were caught when Melissa Halstrom, 32, of North Andover was arrested last week and accused of running a prostitution ring, police said.

Police said they believe Halstrom employed at least three girls for the teen sex-for-money service she advertised on the Internet and operated out of her apartment in an old mansion on Elm Street that was converted into apartments.

One of the girls said she serviced four or five customers a day, five days a week, according to police reports.

The pair were signed up to work a bachelor party cruise on Sept. 22, where they were to be paid $2,500 each, minus Halstrom's 40 percent fee, according to police reports filed in court on behalf of the prosecution.

The party cruise was to involve 20 men, according to the police reports.

The first police report released about the case, which was written by North Andover police Sgt. Diane Heffernan, said one of the girls is a 16-year-old runaway from Portland, Maine. Another is a 17-year-old from Andover, and the third is from North Andover. The report didn't specify how old the North Andover girl is, but it does say the age range of the prostitutes is 16 to 18.

Heffernan's report also said there was a photograph of a girl named "Sexy J" on Halstrom's Web site, but the girl from Maine told Heffernan she thought "Sexy J" didn't exist and was being used to make it look like Halstrom employed more girls.

The girls are considered victims and no charges have been filed against them.

One of the girls told police she had worked for Halstrom for about a month and that she had known Halstrom since she was 15 because Halstrom used to date her father, police said.

The girl told Heffernan that Halstrom told her being a call girl was "easy money."

The girl told Heffernan that she once worked with Halstrom with a customer at Halstrom's apartment.

The girl said Halstrom's daughter would stay with her father for two weeks every month and during those weeks Halstrom would have men come to her apartment. She told police Halstrom had four or five regular customers, police said.

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