FBI seeks additional victims after woman escapes cinderblock cell built in Oregon garage

A woman last month said she escaped from a makeshift cinderblock cell constructed in the garage of a residence in Klamath Falls, Ore. Photo courtesy of FBI Portland Field Office
1 of 3 | A woman last month said she escaped from a makeshift cinderblock cell constructed in the garage of a residence in Klamath Falls, Ore. Photo courtesy of FBI Portland Field Office

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A 29-year-old man is in police custody on accusations that he kidnapped, raped and imprisoned a woman in a cinderblock cell he built in his garage, according to federal authorities who believe there may be further victims.

The suspect, Negasi Zuberi, is in federal custody for interstate kidnapping, the FBI Portland Field Office said Wednesday in a release asking for the public's help in identifying further potential victims as the alleged offender has lived in at least 10 states and is linked to violent sexual assaults in at least four since August 2016.


The FBI said he is known by his victims as "Sakima" and several other names, and is believed to employ different methods to control his victims, including drugging drinks, pretending to be a police officer and soliciting the services of sex workers.

His primarily targets are believed to be sex workers or roommates, it said.


Zuberi was arrested last month after a woman said she had broken free from a cinderblock cell that had been constructed in the garage of his Klamath Falls, Ore., home.

Court documents accuse Zuberi of having driven the night of July 15 from his home to Seattle, Wash., where he solicited the services of the woman, who is a sex worker.

Zuberi allegedly posed as an undercover police officer and took custody of the woman whom he pointed a taser at. He then allegedly placed the woman in handcuffs, leg irons and the back seat of his car, which he then drove some 450 miles back to his home.

The woman told detectives that Zuberi stopped the car during the roughly seven-hour trip and sexually assaulted and raped, the Klamath Falls Police Department said in a statement.

Once at Zuberi's home, the woman said she was locked in a cinderblock soundproof cell that had a single lightbulb and a metal security screen door that could only be opened from the outside. He then left.

Believing that she would be killed if she stayed in the room, the woman began pounding on the door with her bare hands, authorities said.


"The woman fought for her life, beating the doors and the walls of this cell with bloodied hands," Assistant Special Agent in Charge Stephanie Shark of the FBI Portland Field Office told reporters during a Wednesday press conference.

"Through her perseverance, she broke free and waved down a passing motorist, asking for their help to call 911."

Authorities said she was running down the street screaming when she was picked up by a citizen who drove her to Sky Lakes Medical Center.

She had been in the cell several hours prior to her escape, according to law enforcement.

The Klamath Falls Police Department obtained a search warrant for Zuberi's residence and discovered the cinderblock cell and via cellphone technology, tracked Zuberi to near Reno, Nev., on July 16.

Police said they confronted Zuberi in a Walmart parking lot where he was taken into police custody following a 45-minute standoff with law enforcement.

"We are fortunate that this brave woman escaped and alerted authorities," Shark said in a statement.

"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."


The FBI's investigation includes the states of California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Alabama and Nevada.

Zuberi was charged July 17 with one count of interstate kidnapping, which comes with maximum penalty of life in prison.

A judge ordered Zuberi during his initial court appearance July 26 to be detained pending his transfer to Oregon.

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