Man held woman captive in Tampa Bay area, tortured her for months: deputies

FHP dashcam footage shows moment suspect’s vehicle becomes disabled during chase

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County deputies rescued a kidnapping victim Monday after she was subjected to months of horrific abuse and torture, according to a release.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said deputies found the victim after someone called about an injured woman who “just escaped from a van and needed help” at a Mobil gas station in Seffner.

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According to investigators, the victim had been kidnapped in January by Walter Medina, 48, of Tampa, whom she met while panhandling in the area of Hillsborough Avenue and Habana Avenue.

At first, Medina gave the victim food and drugs, but things soon turned into a saga of “unimaginable suffering” as the suspect subjected the victim to nonstop abuse while holding her against her will for two and a half months, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators said during this time, Medina took the victim across the Tampa Bay area and threatened to kill her if she ever tried to escape.

Deputies said Medina allegedly attacked the woman multiple times with a baseball bat and attacked her with a flathead screwdriver, leaving her with “severe injuries including, but not limited to, broken ribs, deep puncture wounds, and extensive bruising.”

Walter Medina (Photo provided by HCSO)Walter Medina (Photo provided by HCSO)

Walter Medina (Photo provided by HCSO)

Eventually, the victim took the chance to escape after Medina left her alone for a short moment at Walgreens. Deputies took her to a hospital to be treated for injuries to her face and body.

“I can’t imagine the torture this victim endured for months, but I can imagine the relief she felt when our deputies arrived,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “I have to commend the bravery of the victim for escaping her captor and seeking help. Our thoughts are with her as she recovers from this traumatic ordeal.”

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After rescuing the victim, deputies got a warrant for Medina’s arrest on numerous charges including attempted second-degree murder, armed kidnapping, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, and other serious felonies.

Medina was arrested Tuesday after a chase involving the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeland Police Department, and the Florida Highway Patrol.

According to FHP, the 48-year-old attempted to elude law enforcement by weaving in and out of traffic recklessly. At one point, when Medina encountered heavy traffic, he started driving on the left shoulder at more than 100 mph.

Troopers attempted a PIT maneuver twice to stop the vehicle; however, the attempts were unsuccessful.

Then, as Medina veered from the inside lane to the outside lane, he approached another vehicle and collided with it but continued driving away at a high rate of speed. As he approached the John Young Parkway exit, Troopers attempted another PIT maneuver but could not stop him.

Medina got off the exit ramp and continued speeding, driving through a red light, before attempting to make a right turn, striking a raised median, which disabled his vehicle.

From there, FHP gave Medina verbal commands to comply with their orders, but he continued to resist their instructions.

According to officials, when Medina refused to show his hands and began reaching into his right hand into the vehicle, FHP K-9 Rico was deployed and took down the suspect.

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“This suspect’s reign of violent terror is now over,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “I am endlessly grateful for our law enforcement partners who put their lives on the line in service and protection of our community while apprehending this suspect. This joint effort exemplifies the strength of our community’s law enforcement network and our shared commitment to keeping our streets safe.”

According to the sheriff’s office, Medina was previously convicted and imprisoned for false imprisonment. His prior arrest history also includes kidnapping, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and robbery.

Medina was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center. Once he’s released, he will be taken to the Orange County Jail.

This is a developing story. Stay up to date on the latest from News Channel 8 on-air and on the go with the free WFLA News Channel 8 mobile app.

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