Florida Woman Escapes From Captor After Months of Brutal Torture

Jen Krausz
By Jen Krausz
April 3, 2024US News
Florida Woman Escapes From Captor After Months of Brutal Torture
Walter Medina booking photo. (Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)

A Florida woman escaped from a man Monday who she says held her captive for two-and-a-half months, physically abusing her after the two met when she was panhandling in Tampa in January.

Initially, Walter Medina gave the woman food and drugs, but he soon began abusing her and refused to let her leave.

Police did not reveal the woman’s name because of her victim status.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said Mr. Medina subjected the woman to “months of relentless physical abuse and captivity.”

Mr. Medina allegedly beat the woman with a wooden baseball bat and a flathead screwdriver, causing broken ribs, deep puncture wounds, and numerous bruises.

HCSO said he also drove around the Tampa Bay area with the victim and threatened to kill her if she ran away or tried to get help.

When he left her in his van to go into Walgreens briefly, she escaped from the van.

A witness called police and reported that a woman had escaped from the van at a Mobil gas station in Seffner and needed help.

She had extensive injuries to her face and body, and the deputies who responded took her to a local hospital to be treated.

“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.”

When Mr. Medina discovered that the woman had escaped from his van, he fled the area, and police could not capture him at the time.

After a search that continued into Tuesday, police discovered his van in the Polk County area, and he led them on a high-speed chase on I-4 through Polk and Osceola Counties. After driving over 100 miles per hour on I-4 and weaving dangerously through traffic to try to get away from police, Medina eventually struck a raised median on the John Young Parkway on Orlando after exiting and couldn’t continue driving his vehicle, which was disabled in the crash.

He refused to surrender to police, and a K-9 was used to help capture him when he tried to put his hand in his pocket.

The Polk’s County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeland Police Department, and the Florida Highway Patrol were involved in the chase and eventual arrest.

Mr. Medina has been charged with attempted second-degree murder, armed kidnapping, armed false imprisonment, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, tampering with a witness, and tampering with physical evidence.

“This suspect’s reign of violent terror is now over,” 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.”

Mr. Medina was transported to the Orlando Regional Medical Center for injuries in the accident and arrest. He will go to the Orange County Jail when he is released.

Mr. Medina has a criminal record and served time for false imprisonment in another case. He has also been arrested for kidnapping, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and robbery.

If convicted of all the charges against him, he could go to prison for the rest of his life. The second-degree murder charge in Florida is up to 40 years in prison and could be life in prison if the circumstances are found to be aggravated.

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