Cruising With the Whore Cop

Officer Terry Peters knows just about every hooker in town. And they love him--because he keeps them alive.

Nationwide uses the towel to wipe the sweat from his brow. "They just spend their money on crack and whores."

Peters reaches into the back seat, where he keeps his semi-automatic rifle and his CB radio, and grabs a pack of cigarettes. He throws them to Nationwide, who catches them with both hands. "Thanks," Nationwide says.

When darkness falls, we drive around, looking for Twinkie. We see a fat hooker in a see-through black dress, hiding in the shadows behind one of the trucks. "Betty Boop," Peters says. "She comes from big money up in Plano." She scowls as we drive by and Peters laughs. "Peterson!" she calls out when she recognizes him. "Come back!" We're at a gas station, finishing up with a hooker who can barely keep her sagging boobs in her tank top when Peters' cell phone rings. It's Spearmint. He tells Peters to come to the field.

"Roxy" works a truck stop on Interstate 20.
All photos by Mark Graham
"Roxy" works a truck stop on Interstate 20.
Office Terry Peters listens to Twinkie's story at the Pilot truck stop. Peters--DPD's "whore cop"--talks to truck-stop prostitutes such as this one almost every night.
Courtsey of Grapevine Police
Office Terry Peters listens to Twinkie's story at the Pilot truck stop. Peters--DPD's "whore cop"--talks to truck-stop prostitutes such as this one almost every night.

We cross the street and drive past a long row of trucks and pull into the field. The girl is squatted down in front of a chain-link fence, shielding her eyes from Spearmint's headlights. She's skinny, with knobby knees, dressed in a denim skirt and a lingerie-like top trimmed in black lace. She has fine features. Thin lips, thin eyebrows, big eyes. It's Twinkie, the girl we heard earlier on the radio. Peters calls her over to his car and gets her story.

She was a dancer in Austin. She met a guy, thought she could trust him. He dropped her off out here. Three weeks ago she met another trucker. They went to Chicago together. Thought she could trust him too. Found out he was married, so she hitchhiked to Shreveport.

I ask Peters if I can talk to her alone. He nods. We step back, next to the chain-link fence. There is trash all around us. An empty whiskey bottle, a black shoe, a smashed Burger King cup. This girl is different from the other hookers: There isn't a bruise on her. No visible scars. Talking to her is different too. She fidgets as she answers my questions, biting her nails. She'll look me in the eye only in passing, darting glances. She can't even bring herself to admit what she does out here. Tears are in her eyes.

"You know, I heard them talking on the radio, they were talking about killing us for 20 cents."

"Who?"

"The drivers. Talking about killing us and cutting our throats." She shakes her head and looks out toward the highway. "They were talking about us like we're just meat." She says it as if she's surprised. She's 32, but she looks like she could be in college.

"I've seen the good side of them too. But last night, I was with this guy and the look I saw in his eyes, I was scared. I had to think the worst for my own protection. I hear them talking on their radios, 'I'm going to slit that bitch's throat and stab her in her heart.'"

For the first time, she looks me dead in the eye and shakes her head slowly, as if to say, isn't that the worst thing you've ever heard?

"I used to do this sometimes when I was a dancer," she says. "But I never thought I'd stoop this low."

Peters calls her over to his car. He gives her two numbers. One is for a homeless shelter, another is for a rehab center. He urges her to call both. She takes his card, and as we drive off, she disappears into the night.

"Could you detect a smell?" Peters asks. "She's starting to use the perfume instead of washing. Because she can't find a tub, and she's got nowhere to go, and she didn't score enough money last night or the night before for a hotel room."

We drive behind the truck stop and turn left on Cedardale Road, which leads to a slum neighborhood. At the end of the road, Peters shines his spotlight on an abandoned house. The white paint is chipping, the windows have been busted out. Inside, broken furniture's scattered about, a stained mattress is leaned against one dirty wall. "This is where Twinkie hopes to stay tonight, but she's not sure if she can. It's up to the pimp who runs it. She's still going through the breaking-in process, so to speak. You know, the guys have to quote-unquote use her."

We sit there for a minute or two looking at the empty house. The CB radio in the back is crackling with trucker talk. A call is coming over the police radio. Peters ignores it all, staring hard at the house. Maybe Twinkie will call those numbers he gave her. Maybe she'll be calling him in a couple years, asking him how his wife is. But probably not.

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1 comments
AHumanBeing
AHumanBeing

I read through to the end, but I almost stopped reading after page one. What on earth could justify this Spearmint guy talking to Cookie Monster that way?  This woman faces the VERY REAL threat of being brutally murdered, and this thug taunts her about it until she breaks down?  If that is not the cruelest kind of psychological abuse then I don't know what is!  It's sickening to think that there are cops out there who think this is an acceptable way to treat people.

 

The whole tone of the article -- calling these women "whores", joking about one woman's violent death being like "giving head" -- is just so disrespectful.  YES, prostitutes are people and therefore deserve basic respect.  Judge people by their choices by all means, but you before you do, think about what options these people actually had to choose between.  What would you do if your boyfriend got you addicted to crack?  NOBODY chooses to be a truck-stop prostitute if they can possibly help it.

 
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