On Monday around 11 a.m., detectives from the Elyria Police Narcotics Unit arrested Alysia Mericle at her home on High Street following a prostitution investigation.
Police said Mericle, 29, was charged with promoting prostitution, possession of schedule II controlled substances, endangering children, soliciting prostitution, and drug paraphernalia.
According to police, on Monday around 10 a.m., an undercover detective contacted Mericle by phone to set up sexual contact for hire. Mericle posted herself as an online escort and used the screen name "Cherry" on backpage.com.
The detective went to Mericle's home, police reported, and met with her in person. The detective paid her an undisclosed amount of pre-photocopied police buy money in exchange for explicit sexual conduct. The buy was recorded by an officer who was near the area monitoring the conversation the two had. After giving Mericle the money, an arrest team was called in to take Mericle into custody.
Police said when Mericle saw the officials outside her door, she slammed it in their faces and locked it from the inside. The undercover detective was still inside the home. The front door was breached using a police battering ram and Mericle was arrested moments later.
Officers reported Mericle confessed to being a prostitute and agreed that she intended to have sex with the undercover detective for about $180. She also admitted she used backpage.com and her home to set up sexual activity for hire. She also said she was an abuser of cocaine and prescription drugs.
Mericle gave police permission to search her home, officials said. Inside, detectives found a crack pipe, a written ledger for Mericle's prostitution business, and a prescription bottle for Oxycontin that actually had Focalin and Vyvanse pills inside. Police said Focalin and Vyvanse are often used to treat ADHD.
Police reported Mericle lived in her home with her 3-year-old daughter and two other adults identified as Michelle Miller, 47, and Heather Simpkins, 26. Miller and Simpkins were released without being charged. The 3-year-old and five animals inside the home were released to Bobbie Peters, the toddler's grandmother.
Neighbors said cars went up and down their street at all hours. Adding- sometimes men would show up at their doors and park in their driveways.
"There's just cars and people that went in there, it was strange" one neighbor said.
"When you have two little girls you worry about people you don't know who are on your street," another neighbor said.
Elyria Police Captain, Chris Costantino, said police went undercover and busted up the operation as soon as they realized what was going on.
"I can tell you that it's the first time it came across m desk and as soon as I saw it, it was addressed," Costantino said.
Costantino said police will stay on top of this.
"It's a problem. It's something we will continue to look at and monitor," he said.
Mericle was taken to Lorain County Jail, police said, and given a $75,000 bond by Judge Gary Bennett.