Oregon police have warned the public that an attempted murder suspect accused of holding a woman hostage is using dating apps to potentially lure new victims.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, the subject of a multi-agency manhunt, could also be using the apps to recruit others who will help him evade capture, the Grants Pass police department said Friday.
The search for Foster, who was convicted in Nevada of keeping another woman in captivity, comes after he allegedly bound and severely beat a woman into unconsciousness near Grants Pass, Oregon on Tuesday, police said.
On Thursday, 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 — about 20 miles from Grants Pass — where they believed Foster was hiding. Foster’s car and other evidence were seized, cops said.
After a “lengthy manhunt,” police say Foster, 36, evaded arrest with the help of 68-year-old Tina Marie Jones of Wolf Creek, who was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution. It’s not clear exactly how he escaped, however the area is heavily wooded.
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.
Investigators discovered that the convicted felon was using online dating apps to lure unsuspecting people to help him escape or possibly as additional victims.
“The Grants Pass Police Department wants the community to be extra safe while this predator is still at large and also advises that anyone assisting Ben Foster with his escape will face potential prosecution,” the department said in a statement.
Police in Grants Pass, a town of some 40,000 in southwest Oregon, said Foster is believed to be armed and “extremely dangerous.” Officials said they are using all technology available to locate him.
Foster is wanted by the police for kidnapping, attempted murder, and assault. Police have offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.
In 2019 before moving to Oregon, Foster was convicted in Nevada of holding his girlfriend captive in her own apartment for more than two weeks where he threatened to kill her and forced her to eat a sandwich with lye because he was convinced she was having him followed.
Foster — whom law enforcement officials said is a trained martial artist — allegedly used zip ties and duct tape to bind the woman at the wrists and ankles, shaved her head and beat and choked her until she was unconscious. He threatened to kill her with a knife and handgun, officials said.
At one point, Foster forced the woman to eat a sandwich with lye — a strong chemical typically used for cleaning — that burned her hands and throat, the Las Vegas Sun reports.
Foster also allegedly prevented the woman from using the bathroom and only untied her at night. Still, he held onto her as they slept, she told police. The woman managed to escape after convincing Foster that the couple needed food and water. He took her with him to a gas station, where she fled and found help.
He was initially hit with five felonies, including assault and battery, and faced decades in prison. However in August 2021, Foster made a plea 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.
He served two and a half years in Nevada prison, but the 729 days spent in pre-trial detention were put towards his sentence and he ultimately only served less than 200 days.
At the time of his arrest in 2019, Foster was free on a suspended jail sentence in connection with a 2018 weapons conviction and was awaiting trial in another domestic violence case.
Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman told AP he didn’t have time to criticize how Nevada handled Foster’s prosecution.
“Whatever happened in the past,” he said, “we can talk about those situations later.”
With Post wires