A Mesa woman accused of prostituting her 13-year-old daughter to drug dealers was ordered held on a cash-only $1 million bond Wednesday.
Police said JoAndrea Peeler, 36, has admitted to letting her daughter have sex with men in exchange for drugs on 13 occasions.
The girl, who police are not identifying, told detectives that she had sex about 36 times with men arranged by her mother for money and drugs.
"It's a very disturbing case," Mesa police detective Tim Gaffney said. "Where a mother would offer her 13-year-old daughter in exchange for drugs is very disturbing."
Peeler also told police she introduced her daughter to cocaine in January, and the two had been using the drug together since. In about June, Peeler coerced her daughter to have sex with men, Gaffney said.
Police arrested Peeler about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of 13 felony counts each of involving or using a minor in a drug offense, and facilitation of sexual conduct with a minor. On Wednesday, she appeared in East Mesa Justice Court, where Justice of the Peace Clayton R. Hamblen ordered her held on the cash-only bond until a preliminary hearing 8:30 a.m. Sept. 5.
Gaffney said patrol officers happened upon the case during an unrelated drug investigation.
While officers were making an arrest, the telephone of a suspected drug dealer rang.
Officers talked to a woman later identified as Peeler, who thought she was talking to her dealer to buy some "rock" cocaine, according to court records.
Officers met Peeler at the Sun Land Hotel at 2602 E. Main St., and she later told them about the sexual encounters. The girl is in the custody of state Child Protective Services.
CPS has had previous contact with the girl and has three reports related to Peeler on file.
The owner of the hotel where police met Peeler said she checked in Tuesday morning. Before checking in, Peeler, her daughter and possibly a high-school age son, lived in two apartments at a complex at 2650 E. McKellips Road, according to other residents there.
Gaffney could not confirm Peeler had a son, but she also had a 17-year-old daughter, who declined to speak to the media.
Peeler would frequently leave the 13-year-old alone while she was in the hospital or in jail, and the girl was often up late, said Kayla Hutton, 24, who lives in an apartment below Peeler's old unit.
"She'd come up to my door at 2 a.m. and ask for cigarettes," Hutton said.
There were frequent visitors to the first-floor apartment, Hutton said, adding that Peeler had no electricity in the apartment and there were regularly eviction notices posted on the door.
Often, Hutton would take the girl to school at Stapley Junior High School, she said. After a rowdy night when a window was broken, Peeler was kicked out of her apartment, but managed to get another apartment there, said Hutton and other neighbors.
Jeff Vince, 43, recognized Peeler's photograph and said she and her daughter were living in the apartment below his without the landlord's consent.
Another neighbor said the landlord again kicked Peeler out about two or three days ago.
According to Mesa police, CPS asked police to help them find Peeler's daughter on July 22 at the McKellips apartment after learning she was living there by herself because her mother was in jail. CPS also had reason to believe at that time that Peeler had been giving the girl drugs, records state.
The girl was at the apartment, alone. Officers questioned her, as did a CPS caseworker, who took her to a shelter until her mother was released. Officers requested further investigation in the case for suspected child neglect, records state.
A CPS spokeswoman would only say the agency had three unsubstantiated reports on the Peelers, and that they were not for sexual exploitation.
Records also show that police were called to Peeler's apartment on May 18 after someone reported seeing her smoking crack in the apartment.
Police are trying to track any of the men who might have had sex with the girl, and she and her mother have said they can help identify them, Gaffney said.