PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man who posed as an undercover police officer kidnapped a woman in Seattle, drove her hundreds of miles to his home in Oregon and locked her in a makeshift cell in his garage before she managed to escape and flag down a passing motorist, the FBI said Wednesday.
The man now faces a federal interstate kidnapping charge, and authorities said they are looking for additional victims after linking him to sexual assaults in at least four more states.
“This woman was kidnapped, chained, sexually assaulted, and locked in a cinderblock cell,” Stephanie Shark, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland field office, said in a news release. “Police say she beat the door with her hands until they were bloody in order to break free. Her quick thinking and will to survive may have saved other women from a similar nightmare.”
After the woman escaped from his home in Klamath Falls, 29-year-old Negasi Zuberi fled the southern Oregon city of roughly 22,000 people but was arrested by state police in Reno, Nevada, the next afternoon, the FBI said. Court records don’t list an attorney who might speak on his behalf.
According to the FBI, Zuberi also went by the names Sakima, Justin Hyche and Justin Kouassi, and he has lived in multiple states since 2016, possibly including California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, and Nevada.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon, Zuberi solicited the woman, identified only as Adult Victim 1 in the early-morning hours of July 15 to engage in prostitution along Aurora Avenue in Seattle, an area known for sex work. Afterward, Zuberi told the woman he was an undercover officer, showed her a badge, pointed a stun gun at her, and placed her in handcuffs and leg irons before putting her in the back of his vehicle, the complaint said.
He then drove the woman to his home in Oregon, stopping along the way to sexually assault her, the complaint states.
When they arrived, about seven hours after he first encountered her in Seattle, he put her in a makeshift cell he had built in his garage — a cinderblock cell with a door of metal bars — and said he was leaving to do paperwork, the complaint says.
The woman “briefly slept and awoke to the realization that she would likely die if she did not attempt to escape,” the complaint states.
She started banging on the door and eventually broke it open. She saw Zuberi’s vehicle parked in the garage, opened it, grabbed his gun and then took off, leaving blood on a wooden fence she climbed over to escape, the complaint said. She flagged down a passing driver who called 911.
Two Nevada State Patrol officers tracked Zuberi down at a Walmart parking lot in Reno the next day, the complaint says. He was in his car holding one of his children in the front seat while talking to his wife, who was standing outside the vehicle. He initially refused to get out of the car when the officers asked, and instead cut himself with a sharp object and tried to destroy his phone, the complaint states.
Zuberi eventually surrendered and the child was unharmed, it says.