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A round-the-clock manhunt is underway for a 36-year-old man accused of torturing and kidnapping an Oregon woman, and police have warned that the suspect may be using dating apps to find potential new victims, or people who can help him evade capture.
Authorities are looking for Benjamin Obadiah Foster after he managed to escape arrest during a police raid in rural Wolf Creek, an unincorporated community just north of Grants Pass, Ore. When police raided the property, they seized Foster’s car and arrested a 68-year-old woman for hindering prosecution.
Police say he “likely received assistance in fleeing the area.”
Foster has an alarming criminal history of domestic violence and kidnapping, including a 2021 conviction for holding his former girlfriend captive for two weeks inside her Nevada home. Police say he is an “extremely dangerous suspect” and believe him to be armed.
Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman said Thursday he finds it “extremely troubling” that Foster is not behind bars and is able to prey on other women.
Investigators have been looking for Foster since Jan. 24, when they found a woman badly beaten, tied up and near death inside a home in Grants Pass. The suspect had already fled by the time police arrived and the victim was hospitalized in critical condition.
Prosecutors believe Foster tried to kill the victim while “intentionally torturing” her, CNN reports. It’s unclear how long the woman was held captive, though Hensman said Thursday that she had been beaten for a “protracted amount of time.”
“I’m disgusted by what I know happened. This was an evil act,” Hensman said.
On Thursday night, Grants Pass police, sheriff’s deputies, an Oregon State Police SWAT team and federal agents tracked Foster to a property in Wolf Creek. Foster managed to escape, though police did arrest 68-year-old Tina Marie Jones at the scene.
According to Josephine County Circuit Court records, Jones had followed Foster in a vehicle earlier Thursday as he drove to a remote location in Wolf Creek. He then intentionally drove his 2008 Nissan Sentra over an embankment.
Jones then gave Foster a ride to the property that was raided Thursday night and where Foster had been hiding while police searched for him, documents showed.
Grants Pass police said Foster “is actively using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting individuals who may be lured into assisting with the suspect’s escape or potentially as additional victims.”
Police offered a $2,500 reward on Friday for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Foster, who is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and assault in the attack on the Grants Pass woman.
Police warn that Foster “may attempt to attempt to change his appearance by shaving his beard and hair or by changing his hair color. The Grants Pass Police Department asks the public to pay particular attention to Foster’s facial structure and eyes since those features are very difficult to change.”
“This is an all hands on deck operation and we won’t rest until we capture this man,” Hensman said on Thursday.
Prior criminal history
In 2019, before moving to Oregon, Foster held his then-girlfriend captive inside her Las Vegas apartment for two weeks. At the time, he was out of custody on a suspended jail sentence for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
Foster’s girlfriend suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes and injuries from being bound at the wrists and ankles with zip ties and duct tape during her two-week captivity, according to a Las Vegas police report.
The woman also told police she was forced to eat lye and was choked to the point of unconsciousness.
She escaped when Foster let her out of his sight during a trip together to a grocery store and gas station.
Foster was initially charged with five felonies, including assault and battery, and faced decades in prison. But in August 2021, he reached a deal with Clark County prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to one felony count of battery and a misdemeanour count of battery constituting domestic violence.
A judge sentenced him to up to 2 1/2 years in a Nevada prison. The 729 days he had spent in jail awaiting trial were factored into his punishment, leaving Foster with fewer than 200 days to serve in state custody.
At the time, Foster also had outstanding charges for a 2018 domestic violence case, but Foster’s 2021 plea deal settled that previous case and he was “sentenced to credit for time served.”
In 2018, Foster was charged with felony battery constituting domestic violence after allegedly strangling a different former girlfriend on Christmas Eve 2017 after he saw that another man had texted her.
Police Chief Hensman said his department is “using every piece of technology available to locate this man.”
Hensman said he didn’t have time to think about how authorities in Nevada handled Foster’s crimes there.
“Whatever happened in the past,” he said, “we can talk about those situations later.”
— With files from The Associated Press
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