Authorities in southwestern Oregon are warning that a man suspected of kidnapping a woman and beating her unconscious may now be using dating apps to evade capture or find potential new victims, according to police.
The suspect, 36-year-old Benjamin Obadiah Foster, has so far evaded capture but he appears active on online dating services, the Grants Pass Police Department said in a statement Friday.
“The investigation has revealed that the suspect 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,” Grants Pass Police said.
The search for Foster began Tuesday after officers found a woman who had been bound and severely beaten into unconsciousness, Grants Pass Police said. She was taken to a hospital in critical condition and is being guarded while the suspect remains at large, police said.
The man fled the scene before officers arrived, but investigators identified Foster as the suspect and asked members of the public to call 911 immediately if they see him, warning he “should be considered extremely dangerous.”
Police said Foster “likely received assistance in fleeing the area.” A 68-year-old woman was arrested “for Hindering Prosecution” as authorities searched for the suspect, according to the department.
As the search continues, a $2,500 reward has been offered for information leading to Foster’s capture. Police said he is wanted on suspicion of kidnapping, attempted murder and assault.
Prosecutors accused Foster of attempting to kill the victim “in the course of intentionally torturing” the woman, according to charging documents filed in court and obtained by CNN affiliate KDRV.
“This is a very serious offense – a brutal assault on one of our residents that we take extremely serious and we will not rest until we capture this individual,” Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman said in a news conference Thursday.
This is not the first time Foster has been accused by authorities of violence against women.
Court records in Clark County, Nevada, show that Foster was charged in two different cases years earlier, accusing him of attacking women.
In the first case, Foster was charged with felony battery constituting domestic violence, court documents show. Foster’s ex-girlfriend testified in a preliminary hearing that he had attempted to strangle her in a rage in 2017 after another man texted her.
While that case was still pending in court, Foster was charged with felony assault, battery and kidnapping for allegedly attacking another woman – his girlfriend at the time – in 2019, charging documents show.
The victim told police “Foster strangled (her) to the point of unconsciousness several times” and kept her tied up for most of the next two weeks. She said she was only able to gain her freedom after convincing Foster they needed to go shopping for provisions, and escaped while in a store, according to the court records.
The woman was left with seven broken ribs, two black eyes and abrasions to her wrists and ankles from being tied up, according to a Las Vegas police report.
Foster ultimately agreed to plea deals in the cases, the documents read. He was sentenced to a maximum of 30 months in prison but given credit for 729 days served in the first case.
“Am I troubled by what I know already? The answer is yes,” Hensman said when asked about the previous charges in Nevada.
“We’re laser focused on capturing this man and bringing him to justice,” Hensman said.