Woman found in desert after harrowing, weeklong kidnapping

National News
Eduardo Hernandez

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Eduardo Hernandez takes question about an abducted woman during a news conference in Los Angeles, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Capt. Hernandez says 54-year-old Stanley Alfred Lawton and 22-year-old Shaniya Nicole Poche-Lawton left the victim near a military base north of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A suburban Las Vegas woman dragged to California by father-and-daughter kidnappers was found cold but alive after a harrowing, weeklong kidnapping where she was raped, robbed and left for dead in the desert, authorities said.

Stanley Alfred Lawton, 54, and Shaniya Nicole Poche-Lawton, 22, dumped the woman off a highway near Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles, where she was found by military personnel early Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Eduardo Hernandez told reporters Friday.

“It’s a vicious case,” Hernandez said.

While officials said Lawton and Poche-Lawton knew the victim, authorities didn’t provide a motive for the attack. It couldn’t immediately be determined if the pair had lawyers yet who could speak on their behalf.

The woman in her 40s was kidnapped in North Las Vegas on Oct. 30, Hernandez said.

“It’s at gunpoint, it’s by force, the victim is then transported across state lines, held in a house inside of a room for at least a week,” he said. “At some point, she was sexually assaulted and then left for dead.”

Authorities said the woman, who was dumped in the desert without food or water, was suffering from cold and exposure when military authorities found her near the sprawling military base. She was treated at a hospital and released, and she has since returned to Nevada.

“She’s very lucky to be alive,” Hernandez said.

It’s not clear how long the woman was in the desert or why her abductors released her. Although she was robbed, authorities say no ransom was demanded for her release.

After kidnapping her at gunpoint, authorities say Lawton and his daughter took her to his home in Palmdale, California. They are accused of sexually assaulting her on Sunday.

They also accused of robbing her at ATMs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, according to court documents. Authorities would not say how much money was taken.

Lawton was arrested Wednesday, and his daughter was taken into custody early the next morning.

Lawton and Poche-Lawton were jailed on bail of $4.5 million and $3.5 million, respectively, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

They each face charges of kidnapping to commit a robbery, attempted murder, kidnapping from outside the state, rape and three counts of first-degree ATM robbery, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The case may be moved to federal court because the victim was taken across state lines. The FBI is investigating the abduction with Los Angeles County and North Las Vegas police.

North Las Vegas police were gathering information and didn’t immediately have comment. Air Force officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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