SALEM, Ore. (AP) – A man accused of torturing a woman he held captive in Oregon and convicted in Nevada for holding another woman captive is using dating apps to reach out to people who can help him evade police or find new victims, authorities said on Friday.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, is the subject of an intense 24-hour police search after a woman was found unconscious, bound and near death in Grants Pass, Oregon Tuesday. She was hospitalized in critical condition.
On Thursday evening, Grants Pass police, sheriff’s deputies, an Oregon State Police SWAT team and federal agents searched a property in the unincorporated community of Wolf Creek, about 20 miles north of Grants Pass, where they impounded Foster’s car and arrested one 68-year-old woman charged with obstructing law enforcement.
Foster managed to escape. Authorities gave no further details, but the area just off Interstate 5 is densely forested and mountainous.
The arrested woman, Tina Marie Jones, had followed Foster in a vehicle earlier Thursday when he drove to a remote location in Wolf Creek and then intentionally drove his 2008 Nissan Sentra over an embankment, according to court records. Jones then drove Foster to the property, which was being searched Thursday night and where Foster was hiding while police searched for him, Josephine County Circuit Court records show.
Grants Pass Police said Foster was “actively using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting individuals who could be tricked into helping the suspect escape, or potentially as additional victims.”
Police on Friday offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Foster, who is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and assault in the attack of the Grants Pass woman.
Foster’s public defender in the Las Vegas case did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press requesting comment on Foster’s behalf.
Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman told the AP Thursday it was “extremely disturbing” that Foster was out there exploiting other women instead of still being behind bars for crimes in Nevada.
In 2019, before moving to Oregon, Foster held his then-girlfriend captive in her Las Vegas apartment for two weeks. He was initially charged with five felonies, including assault and assault, and served decades in prison after his conviction. But in August 2021, Foster reached a settlement with Clark County prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to one felony count of battery and one misdemeanor count of domestic violence.
A judge sentenced him to up to 2 1/2 years in Nevada prison. The 729 days he spent in prison awaiting trial counted toward his sentence, leaving Foster less than 200 days in state custody.
According to a Las Vegas police report, Foster’s girlfriend suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes and injuries when she was bound with zip ties and tape at her wrists and ankles during her two-week captivity.
The woman also told police she was forced to eat lye and was choked into unconsciousness.
She escaped when Foster let her out of sight during a trip to a grocery store and gas station together.
Court records show Foster was out of custody at the time for carrying a concealed weapon without authorization on a suspended sentence. He was also 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 “senten to credit for time served.”
Police in Grants Pass, a town of about 40,000 in southwest Oregon, said Foster was armed and “extremely dangerous.”
“We are using every available technology to locate this man,” said Police Commissioner Hensman.
Hensman said he didn’t have time to think about how Nevada authorities dealt with Foster’s crimes there.
“Whatever happened in the past,” he said, “we can talk about those situations later.”