August 08, 2023
A man posing as an undercover police officer who kidnapped a woman and locked her in a makeshift cell at his home has been identified as 29-year-old Negasi Zuberi.
Investigation into Zuberi's past revealed that he had lived in ten states over the last decade and had been connected to at least four sexual assaults. So far, the states he may have been criminally active in, include Washington; Oregon; Colorado; Utah; Florida; New York; New Jersey; Alabama and Nevada.
It was also discovered that Zuberi went by several aliases over the years, including the names Sakima, Justin Hyche and Justin Kouassi.
Zuberi was finally apprehended by law enforcement in July 2023, when he drove from his residence in Klamath Falls, Oregon to Seattle, a 7-hour journey of over 450miles, in search of a victim.
On the night of July 15, 2023, at around midnight, Zuberi approached a female sex worker on Aurora Avenue, and posing as an undercover police officer, solicited the woman. The suspect then allegedly pulled out a taser and a fake police badge, telling the victim that she was under arrest, putting her in handcuffs and shackling her at the ankles. He then forced the woman into the back of his vehicle.
According to the victim, she knew that she was being kidnapped after they had been driving for quite a while and questioned why the journey was taking so long. Zuberi, she said, told her she was being taken to a “substation.”
At some point in the journey the suspect pulled over and forced the victim to perform sexual acts on him.
He then covered the victim’s face with a sweater and transported her back to his Oregon home at 1336 North El Dorado Avenue, where he trapped her in a makeshift cell constructed with cinderblocks in his garage.
The door to the cell was installed backwards so it was unable to be opened from the inside.
After locking the victim in the cell, Zuberi informed her that he “had paperwork to do,” and left.
She did not believe the suspect, and after sleeping, woke up with the urgent thought that if she did not try to escape, she would die there.
In a true testament of the human will to survive, the victim punched her way out of her prison with bloody knuckles, breaking the door from its welds. She escaped the cell into the garage where she found her kidnappers unlocked vehicle and opened the door to discover Zuberi’s handgun, which she armed herself with before escaping the property and waving down a passing car. The motorist reported the situation to a 911 dispatcher.
After a sexual assault examination at a nearby hospital, accompanied by police, the victim showed impressive recall by leading officers back to the home on North El Dorado Avenue. They soon discovered the victim’s blood smeared on the fence from her earlier escape. Inside the home, police located personal items belonging to the victim outside the makeshift cell.
Zuberi was later apprehended in the carpark of a Reno, Nevada Walmart, but did not give himself up willingly. When officers arrived at the scene, Zuberi was sitting inside his vehicle with his son, engaged in a phone call to his wife. Instead of giving himself up, he attempted to destroy his cell phone and injured himself with a sharp object. It took around 45 minutes for the officers to take custody of the suspect.
During a search of the suspect's home, investigators discovered notes Zuberi had allegedly written. One note was titled: "Operation Take Over" and contained bullet points pertaining to his plan to kidnap a victim. The bullet points read: "Leave phone at home," "and Make sure they don’t have a bunch of people in their life. You don’t want any type of investigation."
A crude sketch of plans for a DIY cell 100 feet underground with concrete blocks and foam insulation were also found.
A few months ago, Zuberi had lived in Clark County with his wife and their two sons, where he posed as a landlord and homeowner and charged two roommates rent. According to the roommates, Zuberi was mostly active at night and would be absent during the daytime. They added that there were a few red flags, including the suspects disdain for police, however, they never imagined that he was capable of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman and holding her against her will. According to court records the real homeowner was in the process of evicting Zuberi and a neighbour had even filed a restraining order against him.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Stephanie Shark with the FBI Portland Field Office said of the victim’s brave escape: "Her quick thinking and will to survive may have saved other women from a similar nightmare. We are fortunate that this brave woman escaped and alerted authorities. Through quick law enforcement action, we were able to get Zuberi in custody the next day. 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.”
Police believe there are more victims out there who have not come forward at the time of writing. These victims may have been drugged by Zuberi, tricked into believing he was an undercover officer or threatened into silence.
At the time of writing Zuberi has been charged with a federal criminal complaint for one count of interstate kidnapping and transporting an individual across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Writing for The Hill, Gene Johnson, Associated Press, detailed in an August Article titled: Another harrowing escape puts attention on open prostitution along Seattle’s Aurora Avenue, that Zuberi's latest victim is not the first to be kidnapped in connection with Auora Avenue, Seattle this year. Several women have managed to escape pimps and traffickers after being forced into sex work on the street.
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