Update: Ormond Beach police reported Jason N. Minton turned himself in Friday night.
Just after 7 a.m. Wednesday morning (Feb. 19), Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies contacted the Ormond Beach Police Department to let them know of a case of kidnapping and rape they were investigating. The victim, a 23-year-old resident of Flagler Beach, was at AdventHealth Palm Coast. The assault had allegedly happened off U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach. The woman may have been drugged.
Her alleged attacker is seen in a surveillance video dragging her unconscious body in the parking lot of the River Grille restaurant. (See below.)
Authorities are looking for her alleged attacker, Jason N. Minton, 43, of 1155 Heidi Court in DeLand. He is a registered sex offender. Authorities are asking the public for help.
Three years ago Minton was arrested on two identical charges–kidnapping and rape, both first-degree felonies. Just before trial, he pleaded to simple battery, a misdemeanor, was fined $575 and soon after released.
His sex-offender status dates back to an arrest in 1998, following which he was convicted of committing a lewd act in the presence of a victim younger than 16 in 1998, when he was 21. He was sentenced to five years in prison for the second degree felony, served three and a half years, then served two more years when he failed to comply with the terms of his probation. He was last arrested in Volusia County two years ago on a drunk driving charge, and a few days after that on a battery charge.
Last Friday the alleged victim, was at work at a convenience store when Minton came into the business. The woman had recently moved from out of state to live with her mother in Flagler Beach, according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s incident report. She was telling someone else that she needed another job that paid better. Minton heard her and told him that his tree service company was looking for a secretary, and would pay $35 an hour. He was wearing a shirt bearing the company logo, so she believed him.
He and the woman exchanged phone numbers. She called the next day and set up an interview for Tuesday (Feb. 18). Minton told her they would interview at a restaurant over food and drink. He told her it would not be a “conventional” interview, according to his Ormond Beach police charging affidavit. The woman picked River Grille Restaurant off U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach.
Video released by Ormond Beach Police:
During the conversation setting up the interview Minton became very flirtatious. The woman didn’t think anything of it, according to the affidavit. At River Grille, both ordered a vodka cocktail. Minton then ordered three shots for himself and three for her, followed by wine. They had little food.
During the “interview,” the woman would later tell authorities, she remembered Minton saying he “lies for a living,” and had lied to his customer that day, so he could take the woman out to lunch. The River Grille manager and the server who served Minton told authorities that the woman was so visibly drunk that she drew staff’s attention as she and Minton were leaving the restaurant. Surveillance video shows the woman stumbling as Minton escorts her to his vehicle, a truck. He leaves her by the truck and returns to the restaurant to pay the bill. The woman falls to the ground meanwhile. The video shows Minton returning, then dragging the woman to his truck and shoving her in there. She appeared “unconscious,” “limp and unresponsive,” according to the affidavit.
After Minton forces the woman into the truck, he drives off. He returns 63 minutes later, pulling up next to the woman’s vehicle. He then transfers her from his pick-up to her car and leaves her there. She is later discovered by her mother.
Because the 23 year old had recently moved to the area and was unfamiliar with Flagler and Volusia, her mother had kept track of her daughter throughout. Mother and daughter are very close. Her mother has a tracking app on her phone, so she could see where her daughter was at all times. She had checked out the tree service company on the internet before the interview, and knew her daughter would be at River Grille. Her daughter texted her location shortly after noon, from River Grille. But when her mother texted her at 2 p.m, her daughter did not answer. She called three times between 3:45 and 4:15 p.m. and got no answer, according to the affidavit.
Between 3:30 and 5 p.m., her mother tracked her daughter’s phone location. The phone indicated it left River Grille on U.S. 1 and stopped in the 900 block, by the woods. At first her mother thought she was driving, but when the indicator showed the phone did not move for a long time, then returned to River Grille, she became concerned, so she and her husband drove to River Grille.
They got there at about 5 p.m. As they did so, they saw a “Tucker Tree Service” truck leave the scene, according to the sheriff’s incident report.
She found her daughter in her car, “slumped over in the front passenger seat,” according to the sheriff’s report. The driver’s seat had been pushed back as if a taller person had been driving. The keys were in the ignition. The 23-year-old woman was incoherent and disheveled. Her mother drove her home. Back at the house, the 23 year old fell as she stepped out of her car. It was then that her mother realized her daughter was not wearing her underwear. It was in the backseat area of the vehicle.
Ormond Beach detectives “determined that the victim was removed from the River Grille Restaurant without knowledge or consent and taken to an unknown, remote location and sexually assaulted in the suspect’s vehicle,” an Ormond Beach police release states.
The woman would later remember waking up at her mother’s house, throwing up and in severe rectal pain. She told authorities that she’d never passed out before from drinking. She then thought she was “possibly drugged and sexually assaulted,” according to the sheriff’s report. She asked to be taken to AdventHealth to be screened for a sexual assault.
It’s not clear from the reports when she did so, but between the time she woke up and the time she was at the hospital, she got a call from Minton, on whom she hung up. He would call again later and get the woman’s mother on the phone, to whom he “profusely apologized” for leaving her daughter drunk, in the car. The alleged victim also discovered that her phone had been tampered with: all previous contacts with Minton, by calls or texts, had been removed.
She picked out Minton’s picture in a photo lineup with “complete certainty,” the Ormond Beach affidavit states.