Wednesday, June 11, 2014

North Carolina: Russian-Born Woman, 34, Came to US to Meet Suitor, Victim of Human Trafficking Instead

According to The Associated Press, a German woman, 34, who came to the US to meet a man she found online was stripped of her money and phone, threatened with death and kept within arm's reach by the assailant now charged with human trafficking, Zebulon, NC police said Tuesday (June 10).

An arraignment was scheduled June 10 for Robert Whiteside, 45, who lived in a hidden bedroom inside the North Carolina warehouse where he refurbished bathtubs.

Whiteside was charged with sexual servitude involving an adult victim and assault by strangulation.

Once arrested, Whiteside described his detention as a misunderstanding.

A judge reduced his bond from $250,000 to $90,000, secured with the condition that Whiteside submit to electronic monitoring.

Whiteside confined the 34-year-old, Russian-born German woman against her will after she arrived last Wednesday (June 4), Zebulon Police Chief Tim Hayworth said.

COMMENT: Police investigators seized firearms, pornography and travel documents indicating Whiteside had traveled widely abroad, including Ukraine, Uzbekistan, México, Perú and Colombia for possible victims.

Whiteside had warned the woman that he had killed others, but police believe that was likely just a threat to keep the German woman compliant, Hayworth said. Police nonetheless had a cadaver-sniffing dog search the property.

Police became involved after the woman emailed her estranged husband asking for money and he became concerned and contacted police early Monday (June 9). Officers asked Whiteside to meet them at the warehouse. When he did, the young woman was found.

The victim was seemingly in good health, Chief Hayworth said.