'Lost Girls' author Robert Kolker discusses a mysterious Long Island murder case
It was more the promise of social mobility that they shared. They and their families were all in environments where they're trapped. There's no hope of moving up. A chance to make so much money so quickly is a chance to get a leg up.
I wanted to investigate the question of why someone makes a decision to become a prostitute. It's a seismic decision to make. The reasons are not always what the stereotype is.
The other goal is to talk about the world they came from. It becomes a story about class and a story about the gap between rich and poor and how people become vulnerable.
Q: What are the stereotypes you're talking about?
A: I went in with a lot of preconceived notions.
When the first bodies were found, the four women wrapped in burlap, I thought, 'We're never going to learn anything more about them.' I thought they were trafficked in from other countries, that they were outcasts from other countries, that they did it for drugs.
I was wrong about that. What I learned when I got to know the families better is that it's the money that drew these women in. Drugs and substance issues came later.
The thing they shared was that it was about the money and they were from America and from working class families.
Q: These women worked in the "escort" business, which is often a front for prostitution. Men found these women online. How has the Internet changed the world of prostitution?
A: In the past, women worked anonymously and in the shadows. Then the Internet came along, and suddenly you didn't have to walk down the street anymore. And if you were a man, you didn't have to go to a bad neighborhood anymore.