Negasi Zuberi, center, appears inset against images of a makeshift cell used to confine a sex worker, who later escaped, in Klamath Falls, Ore. (FBI)
An Oregon man who goes by many names allegedly held a woman captive in a makeshift cinderblock cell before she miraculously escaped after being repeatedly sexually assaulted, the FBI says. Now, law enforcement are looking for additional victims across the country.
Negasi Zuberi, 29, is currently in federal custody on one count of interstate kidnapping, the FBI announced in a Wednesday press release. Authorities say the defendant has gone by several different aliases –including: “Sakima,” “Justin Hyche,” and “Justin Kouassi” – and he has lived in at least 10 states over the last 10 years.
A Washington State woman recently led investigators to her former cell – at a house in Klamath Falls, Oregon, near the California border, resulting in the defendant’s eventual arrest. But while she may be the last alleged victim, authorities don’t believe she’s the first by any stretch.
“While she may have helped protect future victims, sadly we have now linked Zuberi to additional violent sexual assaults in at least four states and there could be more,” said Stephanie Shark, assistant special agent in charge at the FBI Portland Field Office.
On July 15, Zuberi solicited the woman in question under the guise of purchasing sex in Seattle, the victim told law enforcement. After getting her alone, however, the woman’s soon-to-be captor posed as an undercover police officer and pretended to arrest her by pointing a Taser-like device at her and placing her in handcuffs and leg irons. Then, the woman said, Zuberi put her in the back of his car and took her some 450 miles back to the cell constructed in the garage in Klamath Falls – sexually assaulting her throughout the trip.
The woman would go on to describe the makeshift cell as having a metal door that was only able to be opened from the outside, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in the case and obtained by Law&Crime. At one point, Zuberi left, telling the woman he needed to go “do paperwork,” the document says.
The metal door to the cell in the Klamath Falls garage that could only be opened from the outside. (FBI)
“[The woman] briefly slept and awoke to the realization that she would likely die if she did not attempt to escape,” the complaint says. “[She] repeatedly banged on the door and was able to break the door open and escape the room. Once outside of the cell, she observed the Zuberi’s vehicle parked in the garage, opened the vehicle door, observed the handgun, retrieved it, and fled. [She] sought assistance from a passing motorist who called 911.”
Local police officers noted the presence of blood on the wooden fence at Zuberi’s house that the woman said she climbed over in order to escape, the complaint says. Law enforcement then interviewed neighbors and Zuberi’s wife, searched various records to firm up their identification and secured a search warrant for the inside of the house.
There, officers found the makeshift cell, the complaint says, and a notebook outlining a disturbing plan.
“Operation Take Over,” the handwritten document reads. “Leave phone at home. Make sure they don’t have a bunch of ppl in their life. You don’t want any type of investigation.”
A second page appears to detail how to dispose of bodies: “Dig a hole straight down 100ft”
Two pages of a notebook found at the houses in Klamath Falls, Ore. (FBI)
Law enforcement later used GPS to track the defendant down to a Walmart parking lot in Reno, Nevada, the complaint says. There, after a standoff during which he allegedly cut himself and started to bleed “profusely,” Zuberi eventually surrendered to law enforcement.
“Sakima has several different methods to gain control of his victims, including drugging their drinks, pretending to be a police officer, and soliciting the services of sex workers and then violently sexually assaulting them,” the FBI said in a department-wide information page. “Some of the encounters may have been filmed to make it appear as if the assault was consensual. The victims are threatened with retaliation if they notify the police.”
According to authorities, since August 2016, Zuberi has lived in – at least – the states of California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, and Nevada.
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