Disturbing details are emerging in the case of an alleged kidnapping of a Palm Coast woman in South Bunnell last month and landed four individuals in jail late Friday and Saturday.
The victim, a 31-year-old Palm Coast woman whose name is being withheld, as her allegations include repeated sexual assaults, was reportedly tortured, raped and imprisoned for two days in a crack house before escaping and calling authorities. At one point during the ordeal was beaten in front of a crowd that did nothing while her alleged kidnapper videotaped the beating on his phone. All of it allegedly took place in a Flagler County Housing Authority house two blocks from State Road 100 in downtown Bunnell.
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The Bunnell Police Department is releasing no information other than the original arrest reports, which themselves were not released until today. “We are the detectives on this,” Bunnell Police Chief Arthur Jones said on Tuesday evening. “There’s no more at this time than what we’ve already released.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s crime lab was at the scene on South Anderson Friday evening. Jones said the FDLE was involved in the “initial investigation” only, and that the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office only assisted initially, with the SWAT team, when warrants were served. “If we get to a point that the sheriff is needed, we’ll request that, but right now the Bunnell Police Department is following up the investigation.”
The bi-weekly report of police activity Jones conveys to Bunnell city commissioners makes no mention of the incident or allegations on South Anderson Street. The chart outlining the 463 police calls over two weeks lists one unspecified sex offense and only one assault/battery. Three of the individuals jailed subsequent to the incident–and to the report’s date, by one day–are facing aggravated assault or battery charge. But the report covers July 15-28. The arrests took place on July 29 and 30.
Jones would not explain another key discrepancy: repeated claims of rape in the arrest reports, but no sexual assault charges. The house where the alleged kidnapping and violence took place, meanwhile, stood empty Tuesday afternoon, as men had just finished repainting it. The occupants–what occupants may have lived in it and were not in jail–had been expelled, their furniture set out on the curb in a large, disorganized mound. One house next door is rimmed on one side with children’s toys.
“The police department has done everything that it needed to do in the house,” Jones said, adding that the house was no longer a crime scene after the FDLE was done processing it. “When they cleared Friday night, they were done with the house,” Jones said. “As far as the crime scene part of it, we were complete with our crime scene.”
The following information is based on several police reports filed in connection with the arrest of the individuals–Sylvia Dozier, who’s charged with aggravated battery, and Ernest Watson, Robert Johnson and Arthur Mobley, who are charged with kidnapping. The reports, in turn, are based almost exclusively on the accounts of the victim, a 31-year-old Palm Coast woman whose identity is being withheld, as the allegations include claims of sexual assault.
On July 19, the alleged victim met a woman called Nisha at a Palm Coast gas station. Nisha was smoking crack. The victim asked Nisha if she could take her somewhere so she, too, could have narcotics of her own. Nisha allegedly drove the victim to 308 South Anderson, a duplex belonging to the Flagler County Housing Authority in South Bunnell and rented out to low-income residents. There, the victim says she bought $80 worth of crack from a man called Ernest and smoked it inside the house. She then left.
When the victim got home, she noticed that her phone was missing. The next day, Nisha picked her up and the pair went back to the South Anderson house to smoke crack. While there, two men came into the residence and were bagging cocaine, according to the report. The men knew the victim’s name and asked her to confirm it, which she did, according to the victim’s account of the story. At that point one of the men told Ernest that she was an informant, and that she was on probation. (A woman by the same name was booked at the Flagler County jail on a probation violation charge in the past 12 months.)
The victim claims Ernest at that point ordered her into his bedroom–the only bedroom in a small, three-room duplex–and told her she was not going to leave, while “Rob” allegedly threatened to pour kerosene on Nisha if she did not leave. Nisha left with some of the victim’s belongings still in her car. Ernest then, according to the victim, entered the room, held her by the throat and forced her to have vaginal and oral sex with him.
The following day, July 21, the victim claims Ernest forced her to have sex twice more, this time–unlike the first time–using a condom. Ernest then called a woman he referred to as Sylvia to have her take care of “some business” for him, according to the report. Sylvia began to fight wioth the victim. The fight spilled outside the house. People gathered to watch. Ernest videotaped the scene with his phone while Sylvia, allegedly with a blunt instrument, struck the victim in the face and over her head.
The same day, the victim alleges, Ernest forced her to have sex with a man named “Red.
It was just before midnight on July 22 when the victim says she built up the nerve to bolt from the back door of the residence, running the two blocks to the Kangaroo convenience store on State Road 100, where she apparently immediately called police: the call was made nine minutes after midnight.
A Bunnell police officer spoke to the victim and took her statements about the incident while she was at Florida Hospital Flagler. While there, the officer spoke to Linda Blum, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s victim advocate, and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. “After several hours of examination” the report states, the nurse examiner told the officer “that in addition to what the victim had advised law enforcement, she also had approximately 10-20 cigarette burns on her legs and feet, her earrings had been ripped out of her ears, and she had numerous defensive wounds.”
The forensic exam that took place at the hospital less than two hours after the victim escaped confirmed numerous injuries to her body including, according the report, “bruising on her forehead, neck, left ear, left upper arm, left elbow, right elbow and upper forearm, cigarette burns on multiple location[s] on both legs and feet, ligature marks on both feet,” which suggests she was restrained. The sheriff’s office’s photo lineups of the suspects led to the victim’s identification of her alleged assailants.
The afternoon of July 29, a sheriff’s corporal took the victim back to South Bunnell, where she identified the house on South Anderson. Later that day, the sheriff’s office’s SWAT team warmed on the property and two of the alleged kidnappers were arrested. A third was arrested the following day, as was Dozier.