Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Police charge Tampa man with imprisoning, torturing girlfriend, her child for six days

TAMPA — For six days last month, police say, a woman and her 6-year-old daughter were held captive in an east Tampa home with bars on the windows and dead bolts on the outside of the doors.

Police say one person had the keys to let them go: Leon Jorge Washington. But instead, they allege, he tortured the woman, his girlfriend of nine months, whom he suspected of being unfaithful.

According to officers, Washington cut her with an ice pick and smacked her with a hot clothes iron. He forced her to perform sex acts. He cut her hair with pruning shears and stuffed the locks in a plastic grocery bag. He spit on the girl and yelled at her when she "stole" a sports drink out of the refrigerator.

Washington, 41, finally let them go for medical attention when the unidentified woman's sister showed up. But he ordered them not to go to a hospital.

They never went back to Washington's house at 3419 E Deleuil Ave., a few blocks north of Hillsborough Avenue. Instead, they called police.

Tampa police and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force found Washington on Thursday night after media reports aired on the 6 p.m. news. A tipster called and said he was staying in a mobile home at 7155 Fairview Park Drive. He was arrested without incident.

Agencies had offered a reward of up to $1,500 for Washington's whereabouts.

The incidents occurred between Dec. 23 and Dec. 29, police said.

The 31-year-old woman has been treated for serious abrasions, burns and lacerations at a local hospital and released.

Sgt. Bill Todd said the child was not physically hurt but is shaken by what she witnessed.

Asked why no one noticed the woman and her daughter were missing, Todd said the woman is self-employed and most of her family lives out of town.

Officers had to persuade the woman to go to the hospital for treatment, Todd said, eventually offering her an armed escort.

"The victim is still very frightened, very scared," he said. He declined to say where she is now. "She's totally safe, that's all I'll say."

State records show Washington has 16 arrests since 1988. One of those is a 1990 false imprisonment conviction, for which he received a 11/2-year prison sentence.

Neighbors on Thursday said they hadn't seen or heard anything unusual coming from Washington's home late last month. Before his arrest, his daughter, Taquila Washington, told Bay News 9 that she wanted her father's surrender to be peaceful.

"He messed up," she said. "But he's my father, and I love him anyway."

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell and Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Reach Jodie Tillman at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.

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