Woman locked in warehouse met suspect online, Zebulon police say
by WNCN Staff
Police say a 34-year-old German woman was held against her will in a Zebulon warehouse.
Robert Edward Whiteside is charged with human trafficking and assault by strangulation.
ZEBULON, N.C. -
A Zebulon man has been charged with human trafficking and assault by strangulation after a German woman told police he held her against her will.
The Zebulon Police Department said it received a tip Monday morning from a person in Germany claiming that a woman was being held against her will at a warehouse.
Following up on the tip, officers met 44-year-old Robert Edward Whiteside at a warehouse on Mack Todd Road, which was thought to be the location of the victim.
Police said they located the 34-year-old woman, who told officers that she had been in the United States since June 4, and that she had been physically and sexually assaulted, and stripped of her finances. Police said she was kept inside a secret bedroom behind a closet wall inside the warehouse, which Whiteside used to refurbish bathtubs.
Whiteside was subsequently charged with human trafficking and assault by strangulation. Police said more charges could be filed as the case unfolds.
Zebulon Police Chief Tim Hayworth said it appears Whiteside and the woman began chatting online after she responded to a personal ad he posted. Hayworth said officers found airplane ticket stubs showing Whiteside paid for her to come to the U.S.
Police said there is no evidence to believe there are any other victims.
The woman is in good health and has been moved to a safe house, police said.
Whiteside is being held on $250,000 bond in the Wake County jail pending a first court appearance on Tuesday.