Adult and two juveniles charged in kidnapping, assault of Minneapolis woman

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Minneapolis man and two juveniles were charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, kidnapping and auto theft in the October abduction of a woman outside her Uptown apartment, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.

Deonte Lawson, 23, was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and a count each of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and auto theft. Darrius Freeman, 17, and Wayne Armstrong, 17 were charged in a juvenile petition with similar charges. Prosecutors will be petitioning to have Freeman and Armstrong tried as adults.

“This was a horrendous ordeal for the young woman and she rightly feared for her life,” Mike Freeman said. “She showed great courage and cleverness in finally escaping. Police did a good job of investigating and we expect to prove the case in court and then ask for high sentences.”

According to the criminal complaints, a woman in her mid-20s was retrieving something from the trunk of her car late on the night of Oct. 15 or early the morning of Oct. 16 when Lawson, Darius Freeman and Armstrong forced her into the back seat of the car at gunpoint. They also took her credit cards.

They made at least one stop and used her card to buy food at a White Castle restaurant. Then they took her to a secluded wooded area and sexually assaulted her. They then dragged her back into her car and drove east to Washington County, the complaint states.

Because it was a rural area, the woman feared they were going to kill her. She told the driver that they had to stop for gas because there wasn’t enough to get them back to Minneapolis. They pulled into a station on Manning Trail North in Scandia and she managed to escape and run barefoot into the woods. One of her captors searched for her but gave up and the three men drove away, according to the complaint. People living above the gas station let her use their cell phone to call for help.

The woman was able to give some description of the men, including clothing they were wearing. Police also worked with her to see where her credit card was used and surveillance video at the stores produced photos of all three men. In the afternoon of Oct. 16, Minneapolis police were sent to investigate reckless driving in the 4700 block of Beard Avenue. When police arrived, there were several juveniles around the car and Darrius Freeman was in the driver’s seat, according to the juvenile petition. The car belonged to the assault victim and Freeman was arrested.

The DNA lab work from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was completed last month and indicated that 99.9 percent of the world’s population could be excluded from the DNA found on the nearly all of the samples taken from the victim. However, Lawson, Freeman and Armstrong could not be excluded, the complaint states.

Police are looking for Lawson. Freeman and Armstrong are in custody.

Lawson Criminal Cplt. (PDF)

Freeman Petition (PDF)

Armstrong Petition (PDF)