Man Wanted for Attempted Murder Is Using Dating Apps to Evade Police, Authorities Say
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, the 36-year-old suspect, is currently using dating apps to evade authorities, police said. (Courtesy of Grants Pass Police Department)
A man who allegedly kidnapped a woman before tying her up and beating her unconscious may be using dating apps to evade police and track down other victims, local law enforcement in Oregon said over the weekend.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, the 36-year-old suspect, evaded capture and is still at large. He is believed to be armed, considered “extremely dangerous,” and currently uses dating apps, police said.
“The investigation revealed that the suspect was actively using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting individuals who could be lured to assist in the suspect’s escape or possibly as additional victims,” the Grants Pass Police Department said in a statement. said.
On Tuesday, police responded to a call about an assault and found a bound and severely beaten, unconscious woman. She was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition. The suspect fled before police were able to identify him, but Foster has since been charged with kidnapping, attempted murder and assault – less than two years after he was convicted of a similar violent crime involving another woman in Nevada targeted.
Someone likely helped Foster flee, police said. One person, 68-year-old Tina Marie Jones, was arrested for allegedly “obstructing prosecution”. So far, Foster’s 2008 Nissan Sentra and other evidence have been seized. There is a $2,500 reward for anyone with information leading to Foster’s arrest and prosecution.
“This is a very serious offense — a brutal assault on one of our residents that we take extremely seriously and we will not rest until we apprehend this individual,” Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman told reporters Thursday . “We are laser focused on capturing this man and bringing him to justice.”
Grants Pass police did not respond to a VICE News request for comment and did not say what dating apps the suspect was using.
Foster has a documented history of alleged violence against women, CNN reports. In Nevada, Foster was charged with a felony amounting to domestic violence: His ex said he tried to strangle her in 2017 after another man texted her. While the case was in court, Foster was charged with new charges: felony assault, battery and kidnapping after he allegedly attacked another woman in 2019.
The victim, who was Foster’s girlfriend at the time, reportedly told police: “Foster strangled (her) several times to the point of unconsciousness.” She said that he tied her up for nearly two weeks, with zip ties and duct tape, and that she was forced to eat chemical lye. According to reports, the woman was freed because the two ran into a grocery store and gas station. She escaped while in a store, CNN reported. She escaped with injuries including seven broken ribs and two black eyes.
In August 2021, according to the Associated Press, Foster pleaded guilty to one felony count and one felony count of domestic violence battery. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, but that included time served while awaiting trial. The result left Foster with less than 200 days left in state custody, AP reports.
Hensman said it was “extremely troubling” that Foster was not held in jail, and instead was able to reoffend, KDRV reported.
“Am I upset about what I already know? The answer is yes,” Hensman said when asked about Foster’s previous charges in Nevada.
Dating apps can be notoriously unsafe, with studies suggesting that three out of four people on the apps experience some form of abuse. Men tend to be the aggressors, while women and LGBTQ people are the most targeted.
“App abuse is not new or specific to digital technologies. This reflects long-standing trends in offline behaviour,” wrote Kath Albury, Swinburne University of Technology professor, and Daniel Reeders, a researcher at Australian National University for the Conversation. “Offenders are simply exploiting the possibilities that dating apps offer.”
Experts have also long raised alarm bells, as law enforcement fails to take domestic violence seriously. That’s despite the fact that one in three women have experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner — and mass shootings are often linked to a gunman’s history of domestic violence.