Video shows Hillsborough kidnapping victim escape captor after months of abuse: 'I need help'

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TAMPA, Fla. - New surveillance video shows the moments a kidnapping victim escaped her captor late Monday in Seffner, running to a nearby gas station for help.

It all unfolded at the Mobil gas station at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Lakewood Drive. Deputies said the woman was held captive for more than two months by 48-year-old Walter Medina, who they said found her while she was panhandling and promised her food and drugs.

Gas station clerk Ashraf Zakhar, who was working the counter at the time, said the woman ran inside the store screaming and crying for help, telling them to call 911.

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"She was screaming and crying and said ‘I need help. I need help.’ She just ran to the bathroom and locked herself in," Zakhar said.

In the video, the woman can be seen walking into the store and heading toward the bathroom. Zakhar said she stayed locked in the bathroom for 20 minutes – terrified. Law enforcement and paramedics can also be seen in the video trying to coax her out.

Several minutes later, a female deputy can be seen keeping watch outside the door as the woman comes out of the bathroom. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said she was then taken to the hospital to get checked out.

"Her face was swollen, black eyes. Her whole face was beat up so bad," Zakhar said.

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Moments after the woman broke free and ran across the street to the gas station, a gold van can be seen in the video circling that same gas station. The driver is believed to be Medina, who eventually led deputies on a high speed chase before crashing and being taken into custody.

Deputies said he promised the woman food and drugs, but things quickly turned violent. Medina attacked her with a wooden baseball bat and a screw driver, causing deep puncture wounds and threatened her if she ever escaped.

The sheriff's office said she's now recovering and getting help.

"You've got a long litany of trauma that has occurred, so my hope for her is that once she is physically taking care of that, she will be able to reach out for behavioral health support, because she's going to need it," said Clara Reynolds with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

Reynolds has worked with trauma victims and says it will be a long road to recovery for the woman, but that help is available, including financial assistance through the Florida Bureau of Victim Compensation, which this victim will now have access to.

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Medina was previously convicted of false imprisonment – twice. The first time he was convicted was in the 90s and the second time was in 2010. He served four years in prison for the more recent conviction.

"He's no stranger to us," said Amanda Granit, a public information officer with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "The details of this horrific case that we're talking about this week also appear to be what he's done in the past."

Now, Medina is currently being held in the Orange County Jail on second-degree attempted murder charges as well as armed kidnapping and armed false imprisonment.


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