Montana Man Allegedly Kidnaps, Tortures Lander Woman
A Montana man allegedly kidnapped a woman from Lander in April, drove her to his home in Roberts, Montana, and held her captive and physically abused her until she escaped seven weeks later, according to a criminal complaint filed in Montana U.S. District Court.
Adolfo Vargas Lepe, 59, made his initial appearance on June 8 and heard the sole count of kidnapping, which is punishable in federal court by up to 20 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised probation after his release from custody, according to a press release from Montana U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich
Lepe is detained, and will have his formal detention hearing on Thursday, according to federal court records.
The allegations are horrific.
The woman, identified as Victim No. 1, was in Lander living with her mother after she ended an abusive relationship with Lepe, according to the criminal complaint.
About April 9, Easter, Lepe called her said he was driving to Lander to bring her to his home in Roberts, which is about 76 miles north of Cody.
She didn't want to go because in the previous month he used her like a "'punching bag,'" according to the criminal complaint.
She believed he would kill her if she didn't go with him. He told her he had a connection with a Mexican cartel that could have her and her family "'taken care of.'"
An unidentified male friend drove Lepe to Lander.
The woman didn't believe she had an option, and went with Lepe and the driver to Roberts, Montana. She did not have a working phone and had no way to contact her family.
Within a couple of days, Lepe began abusing her physically and mentally. The abuse included:
- Threatening to shoot her with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
- Hitting her on the head with the handgun grip and hitting her in the back with the handgun.
- Pointing a .22-caliber rifle at her and threatening to shoot her.
- Firing three rounds, with one hitting her right thigh, one hitting her left thigh and the third missing her head and striking a wall.
- Being angry with her because she bled on the floor.
- Securing the windows and doors with screws to prevent her from escaping.
- Striking her with an electric drill and grinder.
- Being whipped in the legs with long USB cables.
- Hitting her with an open hand, and breaking her nose and causing two black eyes.
- Stabbing her in the abdomen and back with nails and screws.
- Punching her while she slept.
On May 29, Lepe's daughter and son-in-law arrived at his residence to borrow something, according to the criminal complaint.
While they were talking outside the residence, the victim stepped outside, said she had been shot and needed medical attention.
Lepe's daughter tried to help and he threw a rock at her, "telling her to mind her own business."
His son-in-law began fighting him.
The victim escaped by crawling under a chain link fence, hid in bushes for two hours, then walked to a bar to call 911.
A medical exam of the victim and evidence from a law enforcement search of Lepe's residence corroborated her story.
The press release from the Montana U.S. Attorney's Office says a criminal complaint is only an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus is prosecuting the case. The FBI, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Billings Police Department and Lander Police Department conducted the investigation.