SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A man accused of torturing a woman he held captive in Oregon, and who was convicted in Nevada of keeping another woman in captivity, is using dating apps to find people who can help him avoid the police or to find new victims, authorities said Friday.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, is the subject of an intensive, round-the-clock search by police after a woman was found unconscious, bound and near death in Grants Pass, Oregon, on Tuesday. She was hospitalized in critical condition.
On Thursday night, Grants Pass police, sheriff’s deputies, an Oregon State Police SWAT team and federal agents raided a property in the unincorporated community of Wolf Creek, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Grants Pass, where they seized Foster’s car and arrested a 68-year-old woman for hindering prosecution.
Foster managed to escape. Authorities provided no other details, but the area, right off Interstate 5, is thickly forested and mountainous.
The woman, Tina Marie Jones, had followed Foster in a vehicle earlier Thursday as he drove to a remote location in Wolf Creek then intentionally drove his 2008 Nissan Sentra over an embankment, according to court documents. Jones then gave Foster a ride to the property that was raided Thursday night and where Foster had been hiding while police searched for him, according to Josephine County Circuit Court records.
Grants Pass police said Foster “is actively using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting individuals who may be lured into assisting with the suspect’s escape or potentially as additional victims.”
Police offered a $2,500 reward on Friday for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Foster, who is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and assault in the attack on the Grants Pass woman.
Foster’s public defender in the Las Vegas case did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment on Foster’s behalf.
Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman told AP on Thursday that it is “extremely troubling” that Foster was out and able to prey on other women instead of still being behind bars for the Nevada crimes.
In 2019, before moving to Oregon, Foster held his then-girlfriend captive inside her Las Vegas apartment for two weeks. He initially was charged with five felonies, including assault and battery, and faced decades in prison upon conviction. But in August 2021, Foster reached a deal with Clark County prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to one felony count of battery and a misdemeanor count of battery constituting domestic violence.
A judge sentenced him to up to 2 1/2 years in a Nevada prison. The 729 days he had spent in jail awaiting trial were factored into his punishment, leaving Foster with fewer than 200 days to serve in state custody.
Foster’s girlfriend suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes and injuries from being bound at the wrists and ankles with zip ties and duct tape during her two-week captivity, according to a Las Vegas police report.
The woman also told police she was forced to eat lye and was choked to the point of unconsciousness.
She escaped when Foster let her out of his sight during a trip together to a grocery store and gas station.
Court records show, Foster was out of custody at the time on a suspended jail sentence for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. He also was awaiting trial in another 2018 case involving domestic violence. But Foster’s plea deal with prosecutors in 2021 settled the domestic violence case, a copy of the agreement shows, and he was “sentenced to credit for time served.”
Police in Grants Pass, a town of some 40,000 in southwest Oregon, said Foster is believed to be armed and “extremely dangerous.”
“We are using every piece of technology available to locate this man,” said Hensman, the police chief.
Hensman said he didn’t have time to think about how authorities in Nevada handled Foster’s crimes there.
“Whatever happened in the past,” he said, “we can talk about those situations later.”
Yamat reported from Las Vegas.