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Details Emerge in Starke Kidnapping

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Sep 20, 2011 10:57:00 AM

New details have emerged in a Starke kidnapping case that has left the local community questioning how this could happen?

James Rodney Lucas, 31, remains in custody on charges of child abuses and interference with child custody after he allegedly held a 17-year-old girl against her will.

According to the criminal investigation report released Tuesday morning by the Bradford County Sheriff’s office, the details of the case still leave a lot of questions unanswered.

Lucas met the girl in Alachua County in March and gave her his phone number. The two began to communicate over the phone a few times before meeting in person again. The girl told investigators she did not know he was more than a decade older because he had what she described as “baby face.”

On June 14, the girl snuck out of her mother’s home to be with Lucas. She said she rode with him to Starke, expecting to stay only a few hours. Instead, Lucas took her to a home he claimed belonged to his Uncle Nate and she spent her first night there. The next night, the girl said Lucas stayed with her at a motel in Starke under another man’s name.

The girl’s third night with Lucas and most of the rest of the summer were spent at a home at 798 Pratt St. in Starke. It was at this house that Lucas began to beat and kick her to keep her under his control, but she denied ever being tied up, being forced to take drugs or being a prostitute.

“She did tell us that the sex with Lucas was initially consensual but then felt she could not say no to him,” Bradford County sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Brad Smith said.

Lucas cooked crack on the stove in front of her, the girl told investigators, and carried a gun while conducting drug deals. She told investigators she was afraid for her safety because Lucas made the statement to her “that he would shoot any person who snitches.”

When investigators asked the girl why she did not flee while Lucas was sleeping, she said she had no place to go because she did not have a good relationship with her mother or other relatives.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Art Forgey said the girl’s mother had filed a missing persons report about the girl on April 30 and said she suspected the girl was with a boyfriend, but the mother did not know the boyfriend’s name. On May 1, Putnam County deputies found the girl at a relative’s home in Putnam Hall, and she was returned home, Forgey said.

Bradford County investigators said the girl ran away again on May 8 but apparently returned home soon afterward.

The girl’s mother talked to a school resource officer on June 14, after the girl left again, but did not file a missing persons report.

The girl was returned to her mother’s home Sept. 2 after Lucas and the victim were pulled over by law enforcement during a traffic stop in Alachua County at 12:04 a.m. Lucas was arrested during the stop on a drug-possession charge, and the victim was given a ride home.

Later that day, the girl told a school resource officer that Lucas had abused her. Specialists documented many scars on the girl’s neck and extremities as well as bite marks on her left arm and hands.

Topics: Personal Injury