While the feds say 16-year-old Desiree Robinson was falling into the clutches of a pimp who would sell her to her death on Backpage.com, Charles McFee allegedly decided to remind her on Facebook that “u still mine … we n this together right baby girl.”
Desiree told him “look I don’t know who you think ur talking to but its not me ur not daddy to me He is,” records show. Less than a month later, the teen girl would be found dead in a Markham garage on Christmas Eve 2016 — her throat slit and her body beaten.
Tuesday, federal prosecutors secured the first conviction in Desiree’s death when McFee, 26, admitted to a judge he had delivered Desiree to an accused pimp named Joseph Hazley in December 2016 in exchange for a measly “finder’s fee” of $250.
Hazley then allegedly sold Desiree to her accused killer, Antonio Rosales, among others. The feds say Hazley slept in his car with his girlfriend while Desiree was murdered.
Charges are still pending against Hazley, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Parente said he expects the case to go to trial. McFee is expected to testify against Hazley and, in exchange, the feds are expected to ask a judge to knock a third off his sentence. That means he is likely to face between six and eight years in prison.
Meanwhile, Rosales has been charged in state court with Desiree’s murder.
Desiree’s mother, Yvonne Ambrose, has sued Backpage.com and testified before the U.S. Senate last year in favor of a bill aimed at websites like Backpage that allegedly facilitate online sex trafficking. It passed the Senate 97-2 last month but still needs President Donald Trump’s signature.
“Without Backpage, there’s no murder of Desiree,” Antonio Romanucci, Ambrose’s lawyer, said after Tuesday’s hearing.
Ambrose watched from the front row of U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman’s courtroom Tuesday as McFee admitted his guilt. McFee also began to cry during the hearing and stepped out of the courtroom during a recess.
McFee’s lawyer, Christopher Graul, told reporters his client has been “very upset through this whole process.” He said McFee has no criminal history but “somehow got involved in something that got out of hand.”
It does not appear he received the “finder’s fee” Hazley had promised him. Hazley allegedly complained to McFee that Desiree was not making Hazley “as much money as he hoped” and it was expensive to pay for her clothing, makeup and hair.
“He’s not saying ‘Feel sorry for me,’” Graul said of McFee. “He feels sorry for the family. He feels sorry for the girl.”
Desiree ran away from her grandparents’ home in November 2016. The feds say she spent the final month of her life living with Hazley, who gave her the nickname “Nicki.” He advertised her “companionship” on Backpage.com, arranged for her to go on multiple dates a day, gave her clothing to wear, drove her to appointments and acted as security.
Authorities wrote in a search warrant application that McFee probably took Desiree to Hazley on Dec. 1, 2016. That day, Desiree wrote through Facebook to McFee: “Im joining his team.”
“Just don’t forget who yo daddy is n change up on me or start acting funny toward me cuz u joining his team don’t mean you nun u still mine don’t every forget that we n this together right baby girl,” McFee allegedly replied.
Later, McFee allegedly told a woman involved with Hazley through Facebook, “they be trying to low ball her that why he can’t pay me.”
After Desiree’s death, McFee allegedly sent another message to the same woman that read, “Did you hear?”
“Yes I did she f—ing 16 dude the hell u bring him a 16 year old for the f—,” she wrote back, records show. Then she added: “How stupid can u be.”
McFee allegedly wrote back: “I didn’t even kno she lie about her age.”