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Kidnapping, child porn charges filed against Utah trucker

Published March 11, 2014 7:20 pm

Salt Lake City man allegedly held two women captive and abused them.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A federal judge in Utah signed an arrest warrant on Tuesday for a Salt Lake City truck driver who allegedly held two women captive and sexually abused them while working as an interstate truck driver.

A complaint filed in U.S. District Court alleges that Timothy Jay Vafeades held a 19-year-old female relative captive between May 26, 2013, and Nov. 26, 2013, when he was arrested on charges of violating a protective order after officers at a weigh station in Clay County, Minn., noticed bruises on the victim's face.

Vafeades, 54, was being held in Clay County, Minn. He will appear in federal court in Fargo, N.D. — the closest federal court — on Wednesday. Prosecutors plan to ask that Vafeades be transferred to Utah to stand trial.

He is charged with kidnapping, transportation for illegal sexual activity, transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography. Potential penalties range from a minimum of five years up to life on the various counts.

According to the court document, Vafeades held the female relative hostage after she traveled from Florida to Utah to work with him. She had not seen him since childhood.

On the first night, the woman awoke to find Vafeades attempting to sexually assault her; he stopped when she confronted him. They went on the road the next day. When they returned to Utah a week later, the victim told Vafeades she wanted to go home to Florida. As she attempted to get out of his semi-tractor-trailer, Vafeades attacked her, beating and strangling the woman until she blacked out.

Over the next six months, Vafeades sexually abused the woman and beat her whenever she tried to leave; he also threatened to kill her. During those months on the road, Vafeades traveled to such states as Washington, Nevada, Texas and Tennessee.

As news of the arrest became public, another woman contacted the FBI and said she had been taken captive after agreeing to have dinner with Vafeades, whom she met at a Salt Lake City truck stop in April 2012. According to the complaint, the woman was held for three months and was sexually and physically abused throughout that time as Vafeades drove to such states as Florida, Nebraska and Texas. He beat her with a belt frequently and threatened to kill her if she talked to anyone, according to the complaint.

The woman said Vafeades tried to change her looks by having her hair cut and colored. Like the female relative, the woman said Vafeades, who had a false set of teeth with vampire fangs on them, used a Dremel drill to file her teeth and also strangled her to the point of passing out.

The woman was rescued on July 12, 2012, after officers at a weigh station in Otoe County, Neb., noticed bruises on her. She was separated from Vafeades and then described being assaulted days earlier while they were in Florida. Nebraska officers did not take Vafeades into custody but reported the incident to authorities in Florida, where battery charges are pending.

After Vafeades' arrest in November, investigators found computer hard drives inside his semi-tractor trailer that contained hundreds of images and videos of child pornography, according to the complaint.

brooke@sltrib.com