Where is Corinna Slusser? Tragic disappearance of cheerleader who was preyed on by sex ring
The young woman has been missing since 2017 and her devastated mom says there’s still no concrete information about her even now
Corinna Slusser was just 18 when she left her small town on the banks of the Susquehanna River and moved to New York City with aspirations of a dreamy city life. But soon she found herself trapped by a Bronx sex-trafficking ring. Her pictures were everywhere on the Web for paid sex, and she was sold in shady hotel rooms by a notorious pimp accused of assaulting his workers and stealing their money.
However, her devastated mother and victim advocates feel that the pain Slusser suffered at the hands of the pimp and a convicted sex trafficker would be nothing compared to what they think happened to her after she vanished. The woman has been missing since 2017 and her mom Sabina Tuorto says there’s still no concrete information about her yet. She has been forced to think about some of the worst possibilities about her daughter's ultimate fate.
In a recent emotional interview to The New York Post, Tuorto said, “My biggest fear is that I’ll never get closure, that I’ll never know what happened to her.” The grief-stricken parent got the chance to confront her daughter’s sex trafficker — Ishi Woney — during his 2019 sentencing. She asked him, “Is she dead or alive? Who is the last person he handed her off to? Please, Ishi, disclose where my child is.” But Woney had just responded: “Honestly, I don’t know.”
Woney is now inside a federal jail. Another pimp has also been awarded two years in prison for promoting prostitution and drugs. But none of them has been charged in connection with Slusser’s disappearance. Tuorto stated: “It’s been four years. But I still shouldn’t give up. Everybody tells me there’s a possibility she’s out there. That’s what I live off. I just pray to God, and I just keep trying to have faith.”
According to the former high-school cheerleader’s friends and her original missing-persons report, even before moving to the Big Apple, Slusser’s life had taken a dark turn. Her relationship with her mom was not good. She hadeven planned to move in with her aunt, but when that plan did not materialize, she moved in with a friend and soon dropped out of school.
Tuorto told The Post: “She was getting into trouble. She got fines, underage drinking. Honestly, I noticed that everything was changing with her. She was kind of out of control. I didn’t know how to handle her by myself.” Then “she packed all her clothes, and that was it. I never saw her again.”
The Bloomsburg teen even attempted suicide in April 2017 by taking 50 extra-strength Tylenol tablets. Soon she lost her job and began taking money from sugar daddies she met on the website 'Seeking Arrangements', according to her friends and police. However, later in August of that year, an unidentified older man asked her to move to New York — she didn’t deny the request and told her mother not to worry.
Lori Cohen, CEO of the anti-child-sex-trafficking group ECPAT-USA, said, “It is very common that teenagers will become ensnared with someone who promised them the sun and the moon and the stars, and the teenager might be looking for love… and also may feel that the parents and other responsible adults in the teen’s life just don’t understand her,” before adding, “Traffickers are very skilled at sniffing that out.”
Though it’s not clear who exactly offered Slusser a perfect life in the Big Apple, she soon got ensared by Manhattan pimp Yhovanny Peguero, then 32, who allegedly started selling her body. But on August 25, 2017, the duo had a fight after Peguero allegedly stole $300 from her purse. He also allegedly hit the young woman and gagged her when she confronted him about the stolen money, police sources claimed.
Slusser then got a temporary restraining order against Peguero, but he still did not leave her alone and kept pursuing her to “work” with him, court records and Facebook messages from the teen’s account showed. He once wrote to Slusser, “I just need for you to promise me that when u make that bread u are gonna give me every dollar and u are gonna let me give u [what] u need to buy your clothes and u are gonna let me deal with the rest.”
Peguero added: “Once we come to that agreement watch how imma treat u. I know everything about u that the next guy probably didn’t even bother asking. Like your favorite color, food, or even your birthday. It f–ks with you. We just went through a very bad experience. Honestly sweetheart if u would’ve just stuck to the plan that I had for us we would’ve never had that.”
But Slusser reportedly did not take any interest and started working with Woney. She was last seen on or about September 20 and she had a fight with the pimp on that day. After the fight, he left her in a room at the Haven Motel in Queens paid for by another man. He claimed that he had no idea what happened to Slusser after that.
However, during his sentencing, when Tuorto asked Woney about her daughter. He answered, “I never passed her off to anybody. Is she dead or alive? I’m honestly not sure, but I pray she’s alive. According to Slusser’s Facebook messages, the night she vanished, she contacted Peguero and asked for help after Woney abandoned her with “no money and food”. She sent a message to him that read, “I’m just scared to come to you [because] of everything.” But when Peguero said he would only help her if she resumed working with him, she slammed: “If you missed me you wouldn’t say [first] thing ‘is she gonna work for me’… You’d worry about my well being and get me without stipulation. You care about money not me.”
But then Slusser’s messages showed her more desperate for help. At this point, she went along with Peguero and made plans to meet. But it’s not clear if they ever did see each other. No one has seen or heard from Slusser after that night. When The Post asked Peguero about the young woman during a jailhouse sit-down, he said, “Look at the Internet, I wasn’t the last person who was with her. I don’t know anything about that.”
While in New York, Slusser was in constant contact with her mother. But the night she disappeared, she told her mum that she would come home. However, that did not happen and after not being able to contact her daughter for days, Tuorto filed a missing report for her daughter.
Tuorto, who has moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina, said: “I feel hopeless. I waited as long as I could for Corinna, and she wasn’t returning, and it’s depressing. Sometimes I don’t even want to, you know, I don’t want to be here.”
But Cohen said there is a possibility that Slusser is still under the thumb of another trafficker. She continued: “I’ve worked with a number of victims who, while they were trafficked, their trafficker had absolute control over their ability to communicate, and isolation is an extremely effective way to maintain control over someone. There could be a threat like, ‘You try to contact your mother, and I’ll kill her.’”
“Prostitution is lethal. It’s more dangerous than being a coal miner, it’s more dangerous than being a firefighter. I think if you were to look at statistics of lethality, you’d have to look at being engaged in armed combat to compare to the risks of being in the commercial sex trade,” Cohen noted, before hoping for the well-being of Slusser.