SEDALIA, Mo. (AP) — A central Missouri woman fled from a home she shared with a man who'd been holding her captive since January, sometimes confined in a wooden box, authorities said Friday.
Sedalia Police Chief John DeGonia said officials are looking for 47-year-old James Barton Horn Jr., a Sedalia resident who court records show has past convictions for kidnapping and abductions. The department is working with federal authorities, DeGonia said, and expects that Horn will face charges.
The 38-year-old woman was hysterical when she called police Thursday night but told officers when they arrived about being controlled and routinely locked into a wooden box by the man, DeGonia said at a news conference. The police chief also said the woman told authorities the pair would occasionally leave the home and that she had contact with family members, according to the Sedalia Democrat (http://bit.ly/1IvTMia ).
Detective Josh Howell said the woman's story is credible because "what she told us is exactly what we found."
"Once we obtained a search warrant and served it, we did indeed find a homemade wooden container that would certainly contain a human being," he said. "It appeared to be used for just that purpose."
DeGonia said officers believe the relationship between the woman and Horn "began as consensual, but it eventually led to 'you can't leave.'"
Howell and DeGonia said the woman had not been reported missing. Neighbors said the two were occasionally seen outside the home and she had some contact with others but it was "very controlled."
The woman is in a safe place and is "doing well, considering the circumstances," Howell said.
Horn's pickup truck was found south of Sedalia on Thursday night but a search turned up no sign of him.
Online court records show that Horn served roughly three years in Tennessee prison in the early 1990s in connection with a kidnapping and sexual attack. Horn also pleaded guilty in 1997 in federal court in Mississippi to unlawfully kidnapping and abducting his estranged wife, records show. He was sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in prison, plus five years supervised release.
Horn was released from confinement in December 2011 and his probation jurisdiction was transferred in 2012 to Missouri, according to online records. The case was reassigned Friday to Judge Stephen R. Bough in Kansas City. U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Don Ledford said he couldn't comment because no new charges have been filed.
Tom Levidiotis, Horn's defense attorney in the Mississippi case, said he couldn't comment. His probation officer is out of the office through mid-May. The chief regional probation officer in Kansas did not return a message seeking comment.
Information from: The Sedalia Democrat, http://www.sedaliademocrat.com