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No Way Out: The Tragic Story of Halifax’s Prostitution Ring

Nineteen-year-old Annie Mae tried to leave her pimp Bruno, but without the funds to do so ... there was no getting out alive.


Once you’re in, there’s no getting out. And unfortunately for 19-year-old Annie Mae, the only option was death.

Tragically, Annie Mae was only one of 22 prostitutes killed in Canada in 1992. The Halifax prostitution ring in Nova Scotia was full of young women trying to carve out a living in a world riddled with sexual violence.

Annie Mae decided that she was done with her pimp Bruno, and switched to someone different. But when neither her new pimp nor Annie Mae paid Bruno the required fee, things turned deadly.

Phonse Jessome’s true crime exposé Somebody’s Daughter blew the lid off this controversial subject when it was published in 1996. The book offers insight into the horrors that these young women faced and how police were finally able to infiltrate it. But by then, it was too late for Annie Mae.

Here’s her story.

Read on for an excerpt and then download Somebody’s Daughter on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.


prostitution ring somebodys daughter

It was late in January 1992 and 19-year-old Annie Mae Wilson was spending the final moments of her life watching television. Annie Mae was lounging on a couch in her sister’s apartment in the north end of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, enjoying some time with the new man in her life, her new pimp. Annie Mae ignored the irritating sound when the old brown phone in the kitchen began to ring. Unlike the newer phones with the electronic warble, Annie Mae’s phone had a real bell inside activated by a tiny wire connected to a small lead weight that slammed repeatedly into the bell when someone called. It was appropriate enough that a bell sounded; the call represented the tolling of the bell for Annie Mae.

Annie Mae’s sister took the call and shouted to the 19-year-old. When Annie Mae heard the familiar voice on the line, she knew she was in trouble. Bruno Cummings was in a rage.

Bruno was calling from another Dartmouth apartment where he was playing cards with a group of friends. Like Bruno, they were also pimps. Bruno was upset because in his opinion he, not the young man on the in Annie Mae’s sister’s apartment, was her “man” on Hollis Street in Halifax and he knew she had not been working for him. Annie Mae’s decision to switch pimps didn’t really bother Bruno; it was how she was doing it. Pimps take their game seriously and don’t like anyone breaking the rules.

When a girl leaves one pimp and chooses another she is required under the code of The Game to pay her former pimp a leaving fee. Leaving fees are one of the methods, torture and terror being two others, used by pimps to keep young women from breaking free of the prostitution game. The fees run from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on a girl’s age and appearance and the level of respect her pimp has earned in the street. Contrary to popular myth, there are very few street pimps who share the profits with their young girls. Pimps take all the money and give their girls an allowance for clothing and food, ensuring that a young woman cannot save enough money to pay her own leaving fee. If a girl wants to break free of a pimp she usually approaches a new man and convinces him to pay the fee, but the girl is still in The Game.

Annie Mae had been a prostitute since she was fourteen and she knew the rules. By not paying the leaving fee Annie Mae was committing the ultimate act of defiance: she was showing complete disrespect to her man or, in the words of the card-playing pimps, “dissin’ Bruno, big time.”


She decided she better take the initiative. Bruno had not mentioned where he was calling from but Annie Mae knew how to reach him. She quickly dialed the number of Bruno’s pager and left a message for him to call her. It was one of Bruno’s card-playing buddies who was wearing his pager that afternoon and he returned the call.

Annie Mae was on the right track when she realized the mistake she had made. Her problem was in the approach she took when she tried to fix it.

“You tell him when he gets some man sense he can give me a call,” she told his buddy. Annie Mae had instantly gone from being frightened to defiant and instead of easing the tension between herself and her former pimp, she had unwittingly pushed Bruno to the breaking point.

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Young girls work the Scotian stroll a block from Annie Mae’s favorite corner. Photo: Open Road Media / Print from ATV video tape


Annie Mae’s sister’s apartment was on the second floor of an older brick building just off Windmill Road in Dartmouth’s North End. Bruno pushed his way through the plate glass door and ran up the stairs to the dimly lit hallway. Biker clambered up behind him and followed Bruno to the apartment door. Bruno Cummings stood just over six feet tall and weighted close to 230 pounds. He was not muscular or athletic but he was an intimidating presence in that small hallway. The angry pimp pounded the wooden door and waited. Annie Mae’s sister opened the door. She recognized Bruno and quickly raised her hand to her mouth as she turned to look into the apartment where Annie Mae was lying on the sofa with her head in the lap of her new man.

“She’s dissn’ you big time man.” Biker was staring past Bruno at Annie Mae. “You gotta do somethin’ now.”

Annie Mae jumped up when she saw the two pimps in the doorway. She walked toward Bruno but before she was able to say a word Bruno lashed out with a fast powerful punch that landed square on Annie Mae’s nose. The slim young prostitute reeled backward from the force of the blow. Instinctively she threw out her hand for balance and caught a fistful of Bruno’s long curly hair. The sudden tug on his hair fueled Bruno’s temper higher and he struck again, this time hitting Annie Mae on the left side of her face. The punch spun her head violently to the right, twisting her neck well beyond its normal range of movement. Biker and Bruno watched her collapse on the floor with a sickening gurgling sound. They saw blood coming from Annie Mae’s mouth and nose, the result of the first punch to her face. They did not see what the violent twisting motion from the second blow had done. The vertebral artery had ripped and blood was filling the space between the young girl’s brain and the inner “wall of her skull. Her body began to jerk in spasms and Biker began to laugh.

“You knocked her cold Bruno my man, two shots and she’s on the mat.”

Bruno said nothing. He looked mutely as her sister knelt beside her and began to cry. The new pimp who had been sitting on the couch with Annie Mae moments before got up and walked out of the apartment without acknowledging Biker or Bruno.

“Get some water,” was all he said to Annie Mae’s sister. His only concern was that she be revived before neighbors called the police.

Annie Mae’s sister didn’t hear him. She was glaring at Bruno, tears streaming down her face. “She’s not breathing any more. My god, you killed her. You bastard, you killed Annie Mae.”

Want to keep reading? Download Somebody’s Daughter on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

Feature Photo: Alyssa L. Miller / Flickr (CC)