Sound Publishing file photo

Sound Publishing file photo

Federal Way man charged with kidnapping, robbery after duct-taping victim, trapping him in trunk

Victim - taken in Kent - escaped by jumping out of the trunk of a moving car.

A 27-year-old Federal Way man has been charged with kidnapping and robbery after being accused of bounding a victim’s hands and feet with duct tape, assaulting the victim, and holding him hostage in the trunk of a vehicle last week, according to charging documents from the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

Teloma Jeremiah Leuelu is in jail in lieu of $250,000 bail after being charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery of a Lake Stevens man at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Kent on March 15.

Charging documents give the following account:

In the early morning hours of March 15, the victim went to the 7-Eleven convenience store at 116th Ave. SE in Kent while visiting for a family member’s birthday party. The victim parked next to an occupied gold four-door sedan, then began to walk to the store’s entrance when he was stopped by Leuelu.

Leuelu asked the victim if he wanted to smoke and the victim declined, according to charging documents: “Leuelu then grabs him by the throat and starts choking him before telling him that they are going to take everything from him.”

Confirmed by convenience store surveillance footage, Leuelu stole the victim’s wallet and keys, then demanded the victim’s debit card PIN number. The victim provided a fake PIN, and “Leuelu then became angry and began choking him harder,” according to charging documents.

The victim then provided the real PIN number, and Leuelu proceeded to drag him by the throat to the back of the victim’s own black Toyota Camry and forced him into the backseat, according to documents. Leuelu and a second unidentified suspect then drove to a nearby Chase Bank on SE 272nd in Kent and conducted a transaction.

Pleading to be let go, the victim told the two men they could have everything; Leuelu then produced a silver pistol and told him to shut up, according to documents. Documents state the victim continued to “cry and beg for his life, prompting Leuelu to begin punching and hitting him in the face with the butt of the pistol,” and the victim was told to put his head down so he could not see where they were driving to.

Some time later, they arrived at Leuelu’s friend’s house and the victim attempted to escape the vehicle. According to the documents, Leuelu then bound the victim’s wrists to his ankles with duct tape, and wrapped the duct tape around his mouth and ears about 10 times, before placing the victim inside the Camry’s trunk.

The victim attempted to yell for help several times while in the trunk while they continued to drive for about three hours, to which Leuelu yelled from the car’s interior that he was going to shoot him if he talked or yelled again, documents state.

“He (the victim) began to feel hopeless and started to pray,” according to documents. “He felt that they were going to drive him into the mountains and kill him, so he began working on trying to free himself from the duct tape.”

Eventually freeing his hands, the victim pulled the emergency trunk release, opened the lid and rolled onto the street where several bystanders came to his aid. Around 8 a.m. March 15, officers responded to 16th Avenue SW and SW Roxbury Street in Seattle to reports that a man, who was bound by duct tape and bleeding, had jumped out of the trunk of a moving car. The Camry came back and circled the area before fleeing westbound on SW Roxbury Street, the documents state.

Officers reported the man had multiple layers of tightly wound tape on parts of his body, was bleeding from the forehead, and that his face was swollen and bruised.

Around 4:30 p.m. the same day, a Tacoma police officer responded to reports of a possible abandoned vehicle — a black sedan with a missing front license plate — at Viewpoint Park along Norpoint Way in Tacoma.

After inquiring about the missing license plate, the man in the driver’s seat, later identified to be Leuelu, said the car belonged to his cousin, according to charging documents. The officer ran the car’s back license plate and confirmed the car was stolen; later, the car was confirmed to be the victim’s black Toyota Camry.

The officer called for backup and arrested Leuelu. Photos of Leuelu and the female passenger in the car were texted by the officer to the detectives, who confirmed him as a suspect in the robbery, assault and kidnapping of the man in Kent earlier that morning. According to the documents, Leuelu and the female subject did not admit involvement in the incident.

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