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Tampa police catch man they say kidnapped, raped and beat his former girlfriend

TAMPA — Two days ago a battered 22-year-old woman ran up to a BP gas station and pleaded for help, saying she'd been held captive and raped.

Police and U.S. marshals began a search for her attacker, and on Thursday they arrested the man she identified as her former boyfriend and kidnapper.

Ernest Vereen Jr., 32, of 9706 21st St. was arrested Thursday when officers spotted him on the street. He was wanted on charges of kidnapping, aggravated battery and three counts of sexual battery.

The woman went to Vereen's home Sunday and they got into an argument, said Andrea Davis, a Tampa police spokeswoman.

He did not allow her to leave, and he repeatedly raped, beat and sodomized her for two days, police said.

She escaped on Tuesday, and walked nearly a mile to a gas station on E. Busch Boulevard where someone called for help.

"She had significant, severe injuries that will take her some time to heal from physically as well as emotionally," Davis said.

Tampa Fire Rescue took the woman to St. Joseph's Hospital, where she was later released.

When police went to Vereen's house that night, they didn't find him there, Davis said.

A tipster told officers where they might find the wanted man Thursday afternoon, she said.

Vereen was previously convicted of child abuse with injuries and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

He was being held without bail at the Orient Road Jail.

Times researcher Tim Rozgonyi contributed to this story.

Tampa police catch man they say kidnapped, raped and beat his former girlfriend 06/11/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2009 9:30am]

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