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Woman escapes from cinderblock cell in Oregon, prompting FBI search for more possible victims

Woman escapes cinderblock cell after kidnapping
Woman escapes cinderblock cell after kidnapping 01:44

The FBI is searching for other possible victims in at least 10 states, authorities said, after a woman escaped a makeshift cinderblock cell in Oregon where she was allegedly assaulted.

The suspect, Negasi Zuberi, 29, was arrested for interstate kidnapping on July 16 after a 45-minute standoff with law enforcement in a Walmart parking lot in Reno, Nevada, after the victim had flagged down a passing motorist and called 911, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. Zuberi has lived in 10 states since 2016 including California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Alabama and Nevada.

Negasi Zuberi FBI

"Zuberi has been linked to at least four sexual assaults in at least four states. We believe there may be more victims," said Stephanie Shark, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Portland field office.

On July 15, Zuberi picked up the woman for prostitution services in Seattle, some 450 miles away from his home in Klamath Falls, Oregon, according to the complaint. He told the victim he was an undercover officer and forced her into his car using a black and yellow Taser, handcuffed her arms and put her in leg irons, the complaint said. She said she also saw a gun in the car. 

After driving for hours, Zuberi put a black sweatshirt over the victim's head and led her into the garage of his home where he had constructed a cinderblock cell, the complaint said. She was placed inside the cell and Zuberi locked the door and left, saying he was going to do "paperwork," according to the complaint. 

A "makeshift cinderblock cell" in the garage of Negasi Zuberi in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Zuberi was arrested for interstate kidnapping after a woman escaped from the cell.  FBI

"The woman fought for her life, beating the doors and the walls of this cell with bloodied hands," Shark said at the news conference. When police responded to the 911 call placed by the motorist who picked up the victim "they discovered a makeshift cinderblock cell with a metal door and a single light bulb above for light in a residential garage," she said. 

After obtaining a search warrant, investigators found the victim's purse at the residence, drawings, notes and a firearm box matching the serial number and description of the gun the victim took from Zuberi's car, the complaint said. 

An interior shot of a makeshift cinderblock cell that an alleged sexual assault victim escaped from in Oregon.  FBI

"The victim's focus, will and determination triggered a law enforcement response that may have actually saved many other women from a similar nightmare," Shark said. 

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