A Tampa man has been charged with raping and beating a 17-year-old in Okeechobee County, then leaving her tied to a tree and taking her infant child.
Kevin McGruder, 20, faces charges of sexual battery, kidnapping, child neglect, false imprisonment and battery. He is being held at the Hillsborough County Jail without bail.
Hillsborough deputies were alerted to the kidnapping Feb. 12 when the teenager reached out to authorities in Okeechobee County. McGruder had taken her there against her will, according to the Hillsborough sheriff's office, and tied her to a tree with an electrical cord. He left her there, authorities said, and took the baby. She broke free and was picked up by a passerby, who took her to a convenience store where she called authorities. She was taken to a nearby hospital.
Law enforcement in Okeechobee County contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which located the teen's mother. Authorities checked the mother's home where the teen lived and found the place in disarray with signs of an altercation, reports said.
Two weeks later, authorities in Osceola County found McGruder and the infant near the Desert Inn at Yeehaw Junction. He was arrested February 27.
Contact Katie Mettler at (813) 226-3446 or email@example.com. Follow her @kemettler.