Images of a makeshift cell allegedly used to confine a kidnapped sex worker and rape victim in Klamath Falls, Ore. Inset: Negasi Zuberi (images via FBI)
A man accused of holding his kidnapped rape victim captive in a makeshift cinderblock cell tried to escape from jail this week and he now faces additional charges, authorities in Medford, Oregon say.
Negasi Zuberi, 29, who also goes by “Sakima,” “Justin Hyche,” and “Justin Kouassi,” was originally arrested by federal agents on one count of interstate kidnapping. That charge came after a sex worker from Seattle was abducted, confined, and repeatedly raped by the defendant.
She was eventually able to escape from the small prison inside the garage of the house he rented, a federal complaint alleges.
Earlier this month, FBI investigators announced that Zuberi had been linked to “violent sexual assaults in at least four states,” with the likelihood of many more victims in those same states and others.
On Aug. 11, the defendant was transferred to the Jackson County Jail on a federal hold, detention records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
On Aug. 23, Zuberi was charged with one count each of attempted escape in the second degree and criminal mischief in the first degree. The escape attempt was discovered at around 12:45 p.m the day before, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
A county maintenance worker outside the jail heard “a suspicious noise” that was “coming from inside one of the cells,” the JCSO said in a press release. The worker then alerted law enforcement.
“Deputies responded to investigate and discovered Zuberi standing on his bunk bed near a chipped window in his cell,” the JCSO press release reads. “Deputies detained Zuberi, sent him through the full-body scanner, and moved him to a hard cell with no exterior windows. While searching the cell further, deputies found an improvised tool that was suspected to have been used to damage the window.”
According to the sheriff’s office, the jail’s exterior windows are reinforced, so damage was only done to an interior window layer.
Law&Crime reached out to Jackson County for additional details on the new local charges but no response was immediately forthcoming.
Those two relatively minor charges, however, are almost certainly only the beginning of the additional legal jeopardy the defendant faces.
After his arrest, Zuberi was indicted on an additional federal charge of transportation with intent to engage in unlawful sexual activity. The docket for his charges also shows that a federal case against him in Nevada was recently transferred to Oregon federal district court in Oregon.
Federal authorities have noted that Zuberi has lived in at least 10 states over the last 10 years. He is believed to have sexually assaulted numerous women over an roughly eight-year timespan — between 2016 and 2023 — frequently targeting sex workers and roommates.
“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 following his arrest. “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.”
Authorities have not said how they linked the defendant to the massive string of sexual assaults over those years.
But the alleged serial rapist’s latest victim was the key to how law enforcement were able to finally begin to put those pieces together.
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, Oregon – sexually assaulting her throughout.
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 victim said she knew Zuberi would kill her if she stayed in the room,” the Klamath Falls Police Department wrote in a press release. “The victim began punching the security screen door. The victim was able to break the welds on the screen door and pull the metal screen material down. The victim then climbed through a small opening in the door and escaped. The victim began running down the street screaming for help.”
The KFPD 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.”
“While she may have helped protect future victims, sadly we have now linked Zuberi to additional violent sexual assaults,” said Stephanie Shark, assistant special agent in charge at the FBI field office in Portland.
A status conference in the defendant’s federal case is currently slated for Sept. 11.
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