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Woman assaulted, held captive in attic for two weeks, police say

A Northern California man has been arrested after he allegedly held a woman captive in his attic for two weeks and sealed her in with drywall.

Butte County Sheriff's deputies said Lawson Rankin, 29, was arrested at his Oroville home on Monday after they found him in the middle of sealing the entrance to attic, with the woman still inside.

Authorities said they were conducting a welfare check on an unidentified woman. Rankin denied seeing the woman, the Sheriff's Department said Wednesday.

"The victim told the sheriff's office that he sealed her up in the attic to prevent her from testifying about some crimes and a sexual assault he had committed," said Mike Ramsey of the Butte County district attorney's office.

During the check, deputies say they noticed Rankin was covered in drywall mud and saw an area in the kitchen that still had wet drywall on it. Deputies broke the drywall seal and found the woman they were looking for in the attic.

The woman told deputies that Rankin had held her captive for two weeks and sexually assaulted her several times. Deputies say Rankin was slapped with a domestic violence restraining order earlier in 2012.

"They noticed there was a fresh piece of drywall over the normal entry to the attic. It had tape and mud put on the wall, a heater was drying that," Ramsey said.

Rankin was arrested on suspicion of parole violation, torture, false imprisonment, domestic battery, spousal rape, witness intimidation and violation of a court order. He was booked into the Butte County Jail and is being held without bail.

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-- Fox 40 Sacramento

 
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