Police say a man kidnapped a woman and held her captive inside a Northampton County rooming house for three weeks, beating and sexually assaulting her until she escaped and made her way to a hospital.
Steven Kitchell, 34, was charged with kidnapping, rape, simple assault and other offenses. Bethlehem police said Kitchell was captured Wednesday in Newark, N.J., where he was jailed pending transfer to Pennsylvania.
Kitchell and the woman, 21, had just become acquainted through a mutual friend when he took her prisoner around May 24 inside the third-floor room a home along Montclair Avenue where he lived, Sgt. Robert Urban said. He kept her under lock and key and occasionally locked her in a cramped storage space behind a wall, Urban said. Investigators say two other women helped carry out the kidnapping
Detectives also tell NBC10 that Kitchell shot the woman with a BB gun and threatened her with a loaded gun. He allegedly gave here heroin and tried to force her into prostitution, police say.
The woman found the key to the room's deadbolt lock and, on June 15, waited until Kitchell was gone to let herself out and flee, said police, who interviewed her at the hospital.
Cheslea Rushing, a Lehigh University senior, says she’s feeling uneasy after learning about the alleged incident.
“The fact that it's next door is pretty close to home,” Rushing said. “Very frightened i guess, because it could've been us and we're the same age, we go to school right over there.”
Police searched the home on June 17 and learned that Kitchell had gone to New Jersey. He was tracked down by the U.S. Marshals Service and Newark police.
Urban said the investigation continues, and more arrests are possible.