Oregon man accused of kidnapping woman, locking her in cinderblock cell
(CN) — A 29-year-old man is in federal custody for interstate kidnapping on Wednesday after a Washington woman escaped a makeshift cell in his Oregon home, and the FBI believes there may be other victims in other states.
According to the FBI, Negasi Zuberi traveled to Seattle, Washington, on July 15 to solicit the services of a prostitute. Zuberi then impersonated an undercover police officer to kidnap the victim, using handcuffs and leg irons to hold her in the back seat of his car.
According to the affidavit submitted by FBI special agent Travis Gluesenkamp, Zuberi had pointed a Taser at the victim before placing her in his car. Once inside, she observed that he had a firearm.
Authorities say Zuberi drove about 450 miles back to Klamath Falls, Oregon, sexually assaulting the victim along the way, where he then imprisoned her in a cinderblock cell in his garage with a metal door installed backward so she could not open the door.
Only after Zuberi left his home was the victim able to escape, flagging down a passing motorist who called 911. The Klamath Falls Police Department responded with a search warrant for Zuberi’s home, discovering the cellar the victim described along with her purse and handwritten notes with instructions for "project takeover."
In a statement on Wednesday, assistant special agent in charge with the FBI Portland Field Office, Stephanie Shark, said the victim beat down the door until her hands were bloody to break free.
“Her quick thinking and will to survive may have saved other women from a similar nightmare,” Shark said, adding that the police were able to arrest Zuberi the next day.
Before Zuberi’s arrest, the FBI says he fled to Reno, Nevada, and engaged in a 45-minute standoff with police in a Walmart parking lot. The affidavit states that when police contacted Zuberi, his wife was outside of the car he was in with his child. He then cut himself and tried to destroy his cellphone before agreeing to exit the vehicle.
Zuberi now faces charges for interstate kidnapping, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.
But while the victim may have helped protect future victims, Shark added, the FBI has now connected Zuberi to other violent sexual assaults in at least four other states. Given that Zuberi has lived in 10 states since 2016, the FBI believes there could be more.
Zuberi previously lived in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, and the FBI says victims may know him by other names, including Sakima, Justin Hyche and Justin Kouassi.
In addition to impersonating a police officer, the FBI believes Zuberi may have also drugged his victim’s drinks, often threatening them with retaliation if they alerted the police.
The FBI is now asking for the public’s help in identifying more potential victims, directing them to contact the agency directly or go to the nearest American embassy or consulate.