Demetrick Cooks told the stripper she might as well get into the car because he planned on following her wherever she went. A week earlier, on New Year's Day, he had gone to the Central Florida bar where she worked, but the exotic dancer had eluded him. After that incident, security guards escorted the 21-year-old to and from Rachel's Gentlemen's Club for a week.
But on January 8, the Winter Haven resident told bar security that the caramel-skinned man with small, serious features was her ride home and hopped into the back seat of his white Dodge Charger. She might as well, Cooks told her, because she would be followed regardless.
That night she stayed with Cooks and his accomplice, 26-year-old Kimberly Agorilla, at an Orlando hotel. The next day at 10 a.m., they sped south toward Miami Springs. In the back seat, the victim surreptitiously texted her mother and then deleted each message afterward. According to a police report, Cooks yelled at the woman when he realized she was texting, and he threatened to have someone stop by her mother's house.
But the victim was able to leak just enough information about her kidnapping. The woman's uncle phoned Betty Steel, the general manager of a Comfort Inn & Suites in Miami Springs. Steel remembered Agorilla checking in with a Hawaii driver's license. She was accompanied by a man firmly gripping the arm of a second woman. Police opened the door to room 205 with a master key.
Agorilla said she and the victim were both escorts who had traveled to South Florida to make money. Records show she had an active warrant for prostitution in Miami Springs. Cooks said that he had only $30 to his name and that the women had invited him down to Miami for the weekend.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Cooks had previously been arrested for human trafficking. In August 2012, he was one of three people arrested for kidnapping women and taking them to a La Quinta near downtown Austin. That case was the first time state human-trafficking charges had been brought in the Texas capital. It's unclear how Cooks ended up in Florida, given that he faced two to 20 years in prison. In this case, Cooks and Agorilla are being held with no bond.
Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti