EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A man wanted for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a local teenage girl is finally behind bars after a two-month manhunt.
Multiple law enforcement officers have said this was the worst case they’ve seen. U.S. marshals tracked down 45-year-old John Watson on a train in Cleveland, Ohio after nearly two months on the run.
The 45-year-old was considered armed and dangerous and among the most sought-after criminals wanted in Luzerne County according to the D.A.
“If you think of the horrific experience of this victim who was raped over several days by multiple people in multiple locations and was essentially, we believe, slated for human trafficking, you know this is among the worst cases I, myself, have seen in my 20 years in the D.A.’s office,” Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.
Investigators say Watson abducted a 14-year-old girl in October while she was walking along Union Street in Luzerne. They say he and another man took her to a borough apartment, and later, a Red Roof Inn in Plains Township where the two men repeatedly sexually assaulted her.
“She was again threatened with physical violence and told that she was being taken to Philadelphia, where the defendant would change her appearance,” Sanguedolce said.
The victim was held captive for three days. Once Watson left the hotel room, she called 911 and was rescued by police. Tammi Burke from the victims resource center says human/sex trafficking does happen in NEPA, but it can take different forms. She explained what it is and what to look for.
“It’s a sexual exploitation. It’s someone who is being forced or coerced into doing things that they don’t want to do. Also the behavior of the victim, maybe somebody doesn’t give them the opportunity to speak. When they’re being asked a question and somebody else is answering for them,” Burke said.
Burke says if you see something that doesn’t seem right, say something. Contact law enforcement or the human trafficking hotline.
Watson remains in custody in Cleveland while awaiting extradition to Luzerne County to face charges.