Misty VanHorn, 22, of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, was arrested on Saturday for attempting to sell her 10-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son on Facebook, according to The Sequoyah County Times, which reported the news over the weekend. She is being held on $40,000 bail.
After posting a number of offers on Facbeook, VanHorn made contact over the network with a woman in nearby Fort Smith, Arkansas, to whom she offered to sell the 10-month-old for $1,000, or both children together for $4,000. She later spoke to the woman over the phone in an effort to seal the deal, telling her she needed the money to bail her boyfriend out of jail. However the woman apparently alerted the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which in turn alerted local law enforcement. Another acquaintance of VanHorn’s, who sometimes took care of her children for “weeks at a time,” also said she reported her to the DHS.
One Facebook message sent by VanHorn to the prospective buyer in Arkansas read: “Just come to Sallisaw, it’s only 30 minutes away and I'll give you all of her stuff and let y’all have her forever for $1,000.” In addition to a likely prosecution by the state of Oklahoma for attempted human trafficking, VanHorn may also face federal charges, since the prospective buyer was in another state.
Although you might think selling your children would be illegal in all 50 states, it’s by no means clear that this is actually the case. In Mississippi, it was technically legal to sell your children until 2009, when the state legislature passed a law in response to a 2008 case. Last month Mississippi ratified the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.