Woman Escapes Weeks-Long Cross Country Abduction, Cops Say
A New York City woman has been freed after being kidnapped off of a Manhattan street and driven across the country by a couple who forced her into prostitution in stops along the way, Salt Lake City police charged today.
The woman, who tried unsuccessfully to escape several times during her weeks-long ordeal, finally managed to call 911 on a cell phone from a Salt Lake City parking lot on Sunday, police said. She was discovered by police hiding behind a pillar. A car belonging to her alleged abductors was quickly located and the suspects were arrested at a hotel on Monday.
The suspects were identified as Jean Joseph and Tara Pinnock. Joseph, 26, is charged with four felony counts of human trafficking, kidnapping/abduction, aggravated assault and rape. Pinnock, 24, is charged with two felony counts of human trafficking and a hold for U.S. Marshals.
The victim, publicly identified only as a 23-year-old woman, was grabbed off a street in midtown Manhattan after she was hit by Joseph so hard that she nearly lost consciousness, according to a statement released by Salt Lake County Sheriff's office.
She was held against her will and driven across the country with stops in Chicago, Grand Junction, Colo., Denver and finally Salt Lake City, the police statement said. She was forced into prostitution in each of those stops and Joseph twice sexually assaulted her in Chicago, according to police.
"The victim had been with Joesph and Pinnock for about two or three weeks. Their next destination was likely Las Vegas or California," Salt Lake City Police Detective Dennis McGowan told ABC News today.
Another officer, Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Robin Heiden, said, "She was able to call 911 from a cellphone late Sunday. She says she tried to escape along the way on one of her stops but was unsuccessful."
"She was found at a parking lot near the hotel where the suspects were arrested. When officers arrived she was positioned behind a pillar hiding presumably from the suspects," Heiden said.
Pinnock was arrested for acting as a guard over the victim and "requiring her to ask for permission to access various items," the police report stated. Pinnock also placed prostitution ads for the victim and arranged the sex acts between clients and the victim over the phone, police said.
"There were visible small scrapes and older bruises on the victim," Heiden told ABC News. "She was taken to a local hospital and released shortly after."
Pinnock and Joesph are being held at the Salt Lake County Jail and are waiting their preliminary court hearing, according to sheriff's office.
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cammie Skogg didn't know if the suspects had lawyers.