Man who tortured woman for months arrested after 100-mph I-4 pursuit, cops say

A man who authorities say kidnapped and tortured a woman for months in Hillsborough County was captured after a high-speed pursuit on Interstate 4 on Tuesday.

Walter Medina, 48, is facing a variety of charges in connection with the abduction, including attempted murder, armed kidnapping and witness tampering. He also faces charges in connection with the pursuit, which reached speeds of nearly 100 mph on the shoulders of Interstate 4 in Polk County, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

The ordeal began earlier this year when the woman was panhandling in the area of Hillsborough and Habana avenues. She met Medina, who at first provided the woman with food and drugs, Hillsborough sheriff’s officials said.

But soon, Medina’s “actions turned violent as he subjected her to months of relentless physical abuse and captivity,” a news release states.

“Medina repeatedly assaulted the victim using a wooden baseball bat and a flathead screwdriver, inflicting severe injuries including, but not limited to, broken ribs, deep puncture wounds, and extensive bruising,” the release states. “Over the course of approximately 2.5 months, the victim endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of Medina as he forcibly transported her around the Tampa Bay area and threatened to kill her if she fled or sought help.”

Officials said she finally escaped when Medina left her unattended at a Walgreens. On Monday, deputies were sent to a Mobil gas station in Seffner after someone reported that “an injured female had just escaped from a van and needed help,” the news release states.

Deputies found the injured woman and she was sent to the hospital.

Detectives secured warrants for Medina’s arrest.

On Tuesday, Lakeland police, the Florida Highway Patrol and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s aviation unit were involved in a pursuit of Medina on Interstate 4.

“Troopers joined the pursuit on the interstate with Medina fleeing at speeds approaching 100 mph in a Chrysler minivan, passing traffic on the emergency shoulders of the interstate, from Lakeland to Orlando,” the Highway Patrol said in a news release.

The pursuit ended at the John Young Parkway after Medina hit a median. He refused to exit the minivan, but a police dog helped bring him out. He was taken to a local hospital.

Medina’s arrest record includes previous charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment and robbery. He has served several stints in prison, records show.