Timothy Haslett Jr., 39, was arrested Friday in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, and charged with first-degree rape, aggravated sexual offense, first-degree kidnapping, and second-degree assault, according to reports, after a Black woman he’d allegedly kidnapped, whipped, raped, and tortured escaped and ran to neighbors for help, saying he’d already murdered two of her friends. Prior to the arrest, the Kansas City Police Department had written off rumors of a serial killer targeting Black women in the area as “completely unfounded rumors,” according to the Kansas City Defender.
The woman who escaped Haslett’s home reportedly was wearing a short black latex dress, a metal dog collar with a padlock, and duct tape around her neck when she begged neighbors for help. According to NBC News:
Lisa Johnson, 41, who has lived in Excelsior Springs her whole life, said she was getting ready for work around 7:35 a.m. Friday when she heard a faint “help me” from outside her front door, which was open.
Johnson said she spoke with the young woman, who told her she was being held against her will.
“She looked straight at me and said ‘help,’” Johnson said at her home Wednesday, adding that when she told the woman she was going to call the police, she begged her not to.
“Please don’t. If you call the cops, he’s going to kill us both,” the woman said, Johnson recounted.
Johnson called the police anyway, and when they arrived, the woman said she’d managed to escape when Haslett took his son to school. She was emaciated, and her hair was matted.
The Kansas City Defender reported that Bishop Tony Caldwell, a local community leader, was “one of many” who made reports of “numerous murdered and missing Black women” in mid-September. The police discredited these reports at the time.
The Kansas City Police Department said in a statement to the Defender after the arrest:
“We base our investigations on police incident reports of criminal activity. We do still maintain that there is no indication that what you guys reported was accurate and there was no indication that there was anything that supported that claim. We share what information we can publicly, many times from the scene, of incidents of violent crimes when there is a report or an investigation underway, there had and has not been anything that corresponded to your reports on social media and the web which is why we refuted that report and said that the claims were unfounded.”
Bishop Caldwell told the Defender after Haslett’s arrest: “That was the description of the guy we were talking about and that was the location we said they were being taken from. That’s exactly what we were telling people. I’m just sorry that it took so long, but I’m grateful that she found a way out. I’m sorry people didn’t act on it sooner, and it’s absolutely tragic that the other young ladies didn’t make it. It’s horrible.”