Woman held captive for months escapes at a Walgreens, police say


A woman who said she had been held captive by a man who beat her for months was able to escape during a stop at a Walgreens, Florida officials said Tuesday.

The woman took her chance to flee when the suspect, Walter Medina, 48, briefly left her unattended at the pharmacy in the Tampa area, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies were dispatched to help her on Monday after a caller reported that an injured woman had just escaped from a van and needed help.

Officers took Medina into custody on Tuesday after a chase. He was charged with attempted second degree murder and armed kidnapping.

"This suspect's reign of violent terror is now over," Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

Walter Medina / Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Walter Medina / Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Medina, who's served time in prison for a previous false imprisonment case, met the victim when she was panhandling, officials said. He initially gave her food and narcotics, then allegedly became violent. The woman suffered severe injuries, including broken ribs, deep puncture wounds and extensive bruising during her more than two months in captivity, police said.

"I can't imagine the torture this victim endured for months, but I can imagine the relief she felt when our deputies arrived," Sheriff Chronister said. "I have to commend the bravery of the victim for escaping her captor and seeking help. Our thoughts are with her as she recovers from this traumatic ordeal."

Police did not publicly identify the woman. She was taken to a hospital for treatment after she escaped.

Officials also charged Medina with armed false imprisonment, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, tampering with a witness and tampering with physical evidence, officials said. He has previously been arrested for kidnapping, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and robbery.

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