SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials the same day. who was transferred to state custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, was charged with five felony counts, including assault and battery, and faced decades in prison. A plea deal with Clark County prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty in 2019 to felony and misdemeanor assault, and a judge sentenced him to serve between one and two-and-a-half years in state prison.
William Quenga, a spokesman for the Nevada prison system, told The Associated Press in an email that Foster arrived at a prison intake center on Oct. 18, 2021, but was released the same day because the judge had considered Count Foster’s punishment 729 days. he had spent in jail awaiting trial. That means Foster had served his minimum sentence behind bars, but was half a year shy of serving the maximum time given by the judge.
THIS IS A LAST MINUTE UPDATE. The previous AP story follows below.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A woman who was held captive and tortured in Oregon remained in critical condition Monday as police searched for dozens of leads on the whereabouts of the offender accused of the attack. Less than two years ago, he was convicted in Nevada of holding another woman captive.
The victim was found unconscious and tied up in Grants Pass, Oregon on January 24. She was hospitalized in critical condition and has not regained consciousness since, Grants Pass police Lt. Jeff Hattersley said.
The case has unsettled residents of Grants Pass, a city of about 40,000 in southwestern Oregon off Interstate 5.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, narrowly evaded a police raid Thursday in the nearby unincorporated community of Wolf Creek, Oregon, and may have changed his appearance by shaving off his beard and hair or changing the color of his hair, the agency said. police.
Police initially released a photo of Foster showing him with shoulder-length brown hair, but he had cut it short and grown a thicker beard since the photo was taken. It is possible that he has further altered his appearance since then, Hattersley said.
“We get all kinds of calls about people walking on I-5, they have long beards and long hair,” Hattersley said. “We have a feeling it’s not really what it seems at the moment.”
Police offered a $2,500 reward Friday for information leading to Foster’s arrest and prosecution. None of the 50 leads that have come in, mostly by phone, since then have been strong enough to lead to Foster, who is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and assault, according to Hattersley.
The Thursday night raid in Wolf Creek, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Grants Pass, involved Grants Pass police, sheriff’s deputies, an Oregon State Police SWAT team and federal agents.
Foster, who had been staying at a family estate there, ran away. Forested mountains surround the community, but researchers believe that rather than disappear into the wild alone, Foster was helped to get out of the area.
Grants Pass police announced Friday that Foster was using online dating apps to contact unsuspecting people and lure them into helping him escape or finding new victims. Hattersley said Monday that investigators no longer believe Foster was trying to find more victims, but rather that he may have been searching for an unconscious person to help him avoid an intensive police pursuit.
“That is why we published it,” he said. “We don’t want someone to unknowingly think they’re meeting a great guy who’s actually a wanted felon trying to get away.”
In 2019, before moving to Oregon, Foster held his then-girlfriend captive inside his Las Vegas apartment for two weeks. He was initially charged with five felony counts, including assault and battery, and faced decades in prison upon conviction. In August 2021, Foster reached a plea agreement with Clark County prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to one felony assault and one misdemeanor assault constituting domestic violence.
A judge sentenced Foster to up to two and a half years in prison. The 729 days he spent in jail awaiting trial were included in his sentence, leaving Foster with less than 200 days to serve in state custody.
In 2019, Foster was out of custody on a suspended prison sentence for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and was awaiting trial in another 2018 case involving domestic violence. Foster’s 2021 plea agreement with prosecutors settled the domestic violence case, a copy of the agreement shows, and he was “sentenced to credit for time served.”
Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman said Thursday that it is “extremely concerning” that Foster has gone out and was able to take advantage of other women instead of remaining behind bars for Nevada crimes.
Associated Press writer Rio Yamat in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
Andrew Selsky The Associated Press