Officials seeking other victims of forced prostitution

Edward Dwight Bell and Octavia Karen Howard

SAN BERNARDINO – Authorities are still seeking information about two Long Beach residents who were charged Tuesday for kidnapping a woman last week and forcing her into prostitution.

Edward Dwight Bell has also been charged with a parole violation and was booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. Octavia Karen Howard was booked into Central Detention Center in San Bernardino.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s authorities believe the two 28-year-old suspects may have victimized other women, said county spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman.

“Based on the actions of this victim, it’s very likely there are other women who have experienced the same kind of violence,” Bachman added.

In this case, the unidentified 22-year-old victim flagged down a sheriff’s unit in downtown San Bernardino and told deputies her boyfriend had kidnapped her in Long Beach, physically abused her and dumped her on Baseline and Waterman avenues, where she was expected to work as a prostitute.

Bell apparently had a dating relationship with the victim, who suffered injuries that did not require hospitalization, Bachman said.

Reports allege that Bell forced the victim into a car, threatened her with violence if she did not agree to prostitute for him, picked up Howard and drove to San Bernardino.

Once the victim flagged down sheriff’s deputies, they lured Bell and Howard into a neighboring community, Highland, where they were arrested.

Bachman said recovered evidence linking the two suspects to a prostitution ring would not be released. Photos of the two suspects, however, have been provided to media.

Bell was being held without bail, jail records showed. Howard’s bail was set at $250,000.

Anyone who believes she might have been a victim is asked to call the sheriff’s central detective division at (909) 387-3545. Detectives will work with those who wish to remain anonymous, Bachman said. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call detectives at the same number.


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