The Other McCain

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Who Is ‘Negasi Zuberi’?

Posted on | August 8, 2023 | Comments Off on Who Is ‘Negasi Zuberi’?

A kidnapping case in Oregon made national headlines last week, after federal officials announced an indictment:

A federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment today [Wednesday, August 2] charging a Klamath Falls, Oregon, man with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a Seattle woman and forcing her into a makeshift cell he constructed in his garage.
Negasi Zuberi, 29, also known as Sakima, Justin Hyche, and Justin Kouassi, has been charged with interstate kidnapping and transporting an individual across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
According to court documents, on July 15, 2023, Zuberi was in Seattle when he is alleged to have posed as a police officer, pointed a taser at an adult woman, placed her in handcuffs, and forced her into the backseat of his vehicle. Zuberi then transported the woman approximately 450 miles back to his home in Klamath Falls, stopping along the way to sexually assault her and cover her face with a sweatshirt.
When Zuberi arrived at his residence, he moved the woman from his vehicle into a makeshift cell he had constructed in his garage. The woman repeatedly banged on the cell door until it broke open and she escaped. She retrieved a handgun from Zuberi’s vehicle, fled his garage, and flagged down a passing motorist who called 911.
The next day, on July 16, 2023, two Nevada State Patrol officers located Zuberi in a retail parking lot in Reno, Nevada. After a short standoff, Zuberi surrendered to law enforcement and was taken into custody.

That press release included this interesting paragraph:

Zuberi has lived in ten different states over the last ten years including California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, and Nevada, and federal law enforcement has reason to believe he may have victimized additional women.

Because of the unusual and terrifying nature of the case — a woman escaping from a “makeshift cell” — journalists have done a good bit of follow-up reporting on the suspect known as “Negasi Zuberi,” and among the things they’ve learned is that his original name appears to be Justin Hyche. This was the name by which he was known as a student at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama.

Portland’s CBS affiliate KOIN-TV investigated:

KOIN 6 dug into Zuberi’s past and tracked him to Alabama, where his original name was Justin Hyche. It is the name that appears in several records — including a 2016 conviction of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and a 2020 conviction of forcible copulation of a minor in California’s Alameda County. Hyche pleaded no contest in both cases. Doing so meant he no longer faced the requirement to register as a sex offender, which was a stipulation of the original charges in each case.
Records also show a 2018 eviction case in the Bronx, New York under Hyche’s name.
However, reporters also found a protective order and an assault case filed against another one of Zuberi’s aliases, Justin Kouassi, in 2022. Previously, a protective order in 2020 showed a name change request and a DUI charge that all appear under the Kouassi name.
In December 2022, Zuberi’s landlord would file for his eviction using the name Negasi Zuberi, which also appears in several court records leading to his arrest on July 16 in Reno, Nevada.
“The more we look into this case, the more we can become concerned as law enforcement that there may be more that we’re missing,” said Stephanie Shark, the FBI assistant special agent in charge of the case.
Officials are now looking for more potential victims, and say Zuberi has already been linked to at least four sexual assaults in four other states.

So he twice got plea bargains in sexual assault cases involving minors, after which he began using the alias “Justin Kouassi” before switching to “Negasi Zuberi.” He seems to have run a scam by renting houses and then subleasing rooms, telling tenants that he was the actual homeowner:

Before moving to Klamath Falls, a city of some 22,000 people, a few months ago, Zuberi lived in Vancouver, Washington, where court records show the landlord sought to evict him.
Landlord Abishek Kandar said in a text message that Zuberi didn’t pay rent for six months, illegally sublet the home, bred puppies, damaged the property and threatened neighbors.
“He is a horrible person,” Kandar said. “He deserves to be in jail.”

More about his time in Vancouver:

Neighbors also said Zuberi was combative and had a steady stream of young women coming in and out of the Vancouver townhouse.
“Danny,” one of Zuberi’s neighbors, told The Post Zuberi threatened him several times, especially after it was revealed Zuberi was lying to his tenants about owning the rental property.
Once Zuberi was evicted, Danny said he went into the home and was shocked at what he discovered.
“We went through the home with the owner because we wanted to help him since we are in the construction industry, but we found it in absolutely horrible condition,” Danny said.
“There was garbage piled up inside the garage and on the inside of house was blood on the walls. There was a lot of weird stuff in there that he left, like heavy chains on the bed. It smelled horrible.”

Still more:

Since news broke that a man living in Klamath Falls had allegedly kidnapped a woman and kept her in a cinderblock cell in his basement, his former neighbors and roommates in Vancouver have started reflecting on their time living near him.
From harassment orders to threats, neighbors say living next to 29-year-old Negasi Zuberi was a nightmare until he was evicted in May. . . .
Mark, a man who previously lived next door to Zuberi, said he was surprised to see FBI agents at his home Tuesday morning, but wasn’t shocked once he found out who they were investigating.
“I wasn’t surprised, personally. I knew something was gonna go down,” Mark said. “There was always something left to right going on that didn’t feel right.”
The investigation has prompted Mark to replay moments he witnessed during Zuberi’s time in Vancouver – like the time he saw a young woman in shorts locked out of the home in 30-degree weather.
“I’m like, ‘Can take you to a shelter. Do you want me to call the cops?’ She was like, ‘No, don’t call the cops’ – like freaked out,” Mark said. “And I’m like, OK, is there something going on inside the house that we know about?’ She’s like, ‘I can’t tell you guys anything that’s happened.’ Almost like her life was threatened if she did speak.” . . .
Neighbors tell KOIN 6 they were forced to contact authorities several times after a string of incidents. Including aggressive behavior. Mark says he and his roommate even began recording Zuberi to show the landlord.
“When we started going against his way of life, he started getting aggressive. You know, like showing a gun,” Mark said. “He started going on our property and cussing us out.”
Mark said certain details in the case also made sense in hindsight. For instance, investigators say Zuberi had posed as an undercover cop to get the woman into his car in Seattle before she eventually escaped from his basement a day later.
“For him, it was more like, you know, ‘I’m the man, I’m taking charge.’ And so, when I found out about even the whole pretending to be a cop, I’m like, that’s not surprising from him. You know? Because he’s a con artist,” Mark said.
Another resident filed a temporary anti-harassment order against Zuberi for allegedly sending threatening text messages against him and his family. . . .
Mark said he hopes no one was harmed in the time that Zuberi spent living in his neighborhood.
“I hope nothing happened like in that house, like as in anyone living there, or like if he held anyone captive,” he said.

My brother Kirby — who has a pretty good track record about predicting such things — expects Zuberi will turn out to be a serial killer.



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