Editor’s Note: Details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The FBI held a press conference Wednesday morning as investigators look for potential victims of an accused violent sex offender who they say kidnapped and sexually assaulted a woman and kept her in a makeshift cinderblock cell in his Klamath Falls home.
The FBI announced that 29-year-old Negasi Zuberi — also known as Sakima, Justin Hyche and Justin Kouassi — is in federal custody for interstate kidnapping after a woman escaped from his home.
The FBI is looking for additional potential victims as Zuberi has ties to 10 states.
On Saturday, July 15, 2023, Zuberi traveled from his Klamath Falls home to Seattle where he approached a woman around midnight near Aurora Avenue and solicited prostitution, according to court documents.
Zuberi claimed to be a police officer and showed the victim a badge saying he needed to take her into custody, according to the documents, adding that he then pointed a taser at the victim before putting her in handcuffs and leg irons and putting her in the back of his car.
He then drove 450 miles to Klamath Falls and stopped at a gas station and put a backward sweatshirt on the woman to cover her face before driving to his home at 1336 North El Dorado Ave, court documents report.
The woman said once they arrived at the Klamath Falls home, he put her into a makeshift cell in the garage he made out of cinder blocks and a metal door installed in reverse so it could not be opened from the inside, officials said.
According to authorities, the woman was locked in the cell for a few hours and after Zuberi left, she escaped by punching and banging on the door several times to break the welds.
Once outside the cell, the woman said she found Zuberi’s car and when she opened it, she found a handgun, which she took before fleeing the house and flagging down a motorist who called 911.
The next day, Zuberi was found in Reno, Nevada in a Walmart parking lot holding one of his children in the front seat of his car while talking to his wife, according to law enforcement.
Court documents say that authorities contacted him, and he refused to leave the vehicle and cut himself with a sharp object causing him to bleed heavily. The documents also said he tried to destroy his phone. The child was unharmed.
After a 45-minute standoff with authorities, Zuberi was taken into custody, officials said. Zuberi appeared in front of a federal judge on July 26 and will be taken back to Oregon.
“If she didn’t do what she did, we wouldn’t be here today and Mr. Zubari would not be in custody,” Klamath Falls Police Captain Rob Reyolds said during a press conference. “I want to personally thank her for her bravery and what she did to get through that ordeal.”
“According to the complaint, this woman was kidnapped, chained, sexually assaulted, and locked in a cinderblock cell. Police say, she beat the door with her hands until they were bloody in order to break free. Her quick thinking and will to survive may have saved other women from a similar nightmare,” says Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Stephanie Shark with the FBI Portland Field Office. “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.”
During the press conference, FBI Assistant Special Agent in charge Stephanie Shark said, “the victim is strong and courageous and right now she is physically okay, and we are working with her through our victim services department to make sure she has whatever resources she needs to continue to be resilient.”
Shark added that this case points to the suspect’s “ongoing and escalating pattern of violence targeting women in multiple states throughout the country.”
Authorities said they do not believe he was from Oregon and was in the state for a few months. According to the FBI, he lived in 10 states over the past 10 years and authorities believe there could be additional victims. The investigation has expanded to multiple states including Washington; Oregon; Colorado; Utah; Florida; New York; New Jersey; Alabama and Nevada.
Officials said Zuberi is linked to at least four sexual assaults in four other states.
Zuberi may have used different methods to “gain control” of his victims including drugging their drinks and impersonating police. Authorities said the victims are often threatened with retaliation if they contact police.
The FBI encourages those who believe they are victims to contact them.
“I want to thank the brave women who fought for their lives to get us where we are today. Now it is our turn to take their burden and fight for them and any other victims out there and seek justice,” Shark said.
Authorities say Zuberi has been charged with a federal criminal complaint for one count of interstate kidnapping, which carries a max sentence of up to life in prison. Transporting an individual across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.
Officials anticipate Zuberi will appear in federal court in Medford in the coming weeks.
Watch the full press conference in the video above.