The woman told the captor with the gun that he’d be wise to stop for gas hours after she was abducted from behind her home and repeatedly raped.
At first irritated, Deonte D. Lawson took the bait and slowed down as he pulled into a gas station in Scandia.
Not waiting for the car to stop, the 26-year-old woman jumped out barefoot and hid behind a tree until her attackers gave up trying to find her and left her more than 30 miles from home.
That’s how police say the woman escaped her night of terror last fall allegedly at the hands of a 23-year-old felon and two teens with reputations for getting in trouble with the law.
“This was a horrendous ordeal for the young woman and she rightly feared for her life,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “She showed great courage and cleverness in finally escaping.”
The last of the three charged this week was Wayne J. Armstrong, of Minneapolis. Armstrong, whose age is listed as either 16 of 17, was charged in juvenile court Wednesday with numerous counts of criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and auto theft in connection with the woman’s several hours of captivity in mid-October.
Lawson, of Minneapolis, was charged Monday with the same counts. Lawson, let out of prison nine months earlier for assault, is on the run. Also charged with the same counts Monday was Darrius D. Freeman, 17, of Minneapolis.
Freeman is in juvenile detention, while Armstrong is in an “unsecured treatment facility” in Anoka County, his charges read. Prosecutors are expected to try both teens as adults.
Results of DNA tests on Lawson, Freeman and Armstrong proved a match with semen collected from the woman soon after the rapes, the charging documents read.
According to the charges and other filings in the case:
The woman called 911 within minutes of escaping and said she was kidnapped while getting something out of the trunk of her car behind her apartment building four blocks from Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.
The suspects forced her into the back seat at gunpoint and took her credit cards. She feared they were going to kill her.
They drove to a wooded area, and she was raped by all three while being held down. The woman believed she was still in Minneapolis at the time.
Afterward, the woman was dragged back into her car and driven to a rural area. She later convinced Lawson that the car needed gas. At first, Lawson told her to shut up, but then he realized she was right.
As Lawson drove into the Big Marine Lake Store, the barefoot woman “exited the vehicle while it was moving,” read a search warrant affidavit filed in the case. “[She] was without her shoes at the time.”
The woman started walking, and Armstrong followed her and asked for more sex, the filing continued. She first “pretended to be looking for an open door at the [closed] station, but when she got close enough to the woods she ran into the woods and hid.”
Amstrong briefly looked for her, then gave up his search and left in the car with the others.
The woman contacted two people living in an apartment above the gas station, and she used their phone to call 911.
Officers met with the woman, whose feet were muddy. Her clothes were dirty and she had cuts and scratches on her hands and face.
Soon after she fled, the woman reviewed recent purchases on her credit cards and found several, including at the Walmart in Brooklyn Center for pellet guns and heavy gloves and at a Super America.
Officers retrieved a surveillance image of two of the suspects at the Walmart, then sought help from other law enforcement agencies in identifying the man in the image with longer hair.
A Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy responded and said he recognized the tan boots with orange laces on the man. The deputy said he booked that person, Lawson, into jail about a week after the surveillance footage was captured.
Darrius Freeman was arrested that afternoon in the 4700 block of Beard Avenue S. after someone complained to police about a reckless driver. Officers located the victim’s car, with Freeman in the driver’s seat.
Freeman admitted being with Armstrong earlier that day. Armstrong’s image was captured on surveillance at the Super America.
Freeman was taken to a hospital for a sexual assault examination, where a credit card belonging to the woman fell from his pants as he was taking them off.
University of Minnesota student reporter Trevor Squire contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482