Neighbour's shock at man who 'held woman captive in cell' - and horror plan

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The victim beat her hands bloody getting out of the cell
The victim beat her hands bloody getting out of the cell

The landlords of the man who allegedly kidnapped a woman and locked her up in a homemade cinderblock prison have said they are "dismayed" about the incident.

Negasi Zuberi, 29, is accused of impersonating a police officer to kidnap a Washington state woman as well as targeting women across the US in a series of violent sexual assaults.

When the FBI searched his home in Klamath Falls, Oregon, they found a handwritten note titled “Operation take over” with the bullet points “leave phone at home” and “make sure they don’t have a bunch of people in their life. You don’t want any type of investigation,” a police statement says.

His landlords Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall and her husband, Kevin Westfall, said in a statement Wednesday that they were “shocked and dismayed by what occurred.”

Neighbour's shock at man who 'held woman captive in cell' - and horror plan eidexiqreiqtrinvThis undated photo provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Portland Field Office shows Negasi Zuberi (AP)
Neighbour's shock at man who 'held woman captive in cell' - and horror planZuberi posed as an undercover police officer

Authorities were made aware of the alleged crimes when the victim managed to break out of the cell by beating her hands bloody and breaking through the door. 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.

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Mr and Mrs Westfall filed a residential complaint for eviction on July 21, giving 24-hour notice to Zuberi and "all others" that there had been "personal injury, substantial damage, extremely outrageous act or unlawful occupant" at the property.

Speaking to NBC News, a neighbour revealed she hadn't seen Zuberi do anything out of the ordinary and even saved her pet during a dog fight.

Neighbour's shock at man who 'held woman captive in cell' - and horror planPicture shows the grim cell the woman was kept in

Zuberi had moved to the suburban neighbourhood with his wife and two children around six months ago.

Neighbour Melanie McClure told the paper that when she introduced herself to Zuberi, he identified himself as “Sakima” and said he’d just moved from Colorado.

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.

Neighbour's shock at man who 'held woman captive in cell' - and horror planThe victim beat her hands bloody getting out of the cell

Ms McClure said: “He’s not overly friendly, but he’s not a jerk or anything like that. Nothing stood out to me that would speak to anything like what he’s being accused of.”

She recalled an incident when her two dogs started dangerously fighting and Zuberi offered to step in. The smaller dog was left nearly unconscious and Zuberi started chest compressions. Ms McClure said: “He saved him. He brought him back for me.”

She also said Zuberi's wife was a “very sweet” mother who had no idea about her husband’s alleged crimes.

Zuberi 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.

Neighbour's shock at man who 'held woman captive in cell' - and horror planThe makeshift cinderblock cell that Negasi Zuberi built

“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.”

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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 realisation 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.

Charlie Jones

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