LOS ANGELES (WASHINGTON POST) - A father and daughter were arrested in California earlier this week after police say they kidnapped a woman at gunpoint in Las Vegas and held her captive for nearly a week in Southern California, where they raped, sexually assaulted and ultimately left her to die in the desert north of Los Angeles.
"She's very lucky to be alive," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Captain Eduardo Hernandez said in a Friday (Nov 8) news conference.
Stanley Alfred Lawton, 54, was arrested on Wednesday in Palmdale, California, while a woman officials identified as his 22-year-old daughter, Shaniya Nicole Poach Lawton, was apprehended in the same place early on Thursday.
The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office confirmed each suspect faces seven counts on charges of kidnapping to commit robbery, attempted murder, kidnapping from outside the state, rape and three counts of first-degree ATM robbery.
The office said it could not confirm the suspects' relationship to one another.
"It's a vicious case; it's at gunpoint, by force," Hernandez said.
"That victim is then transported across state lines, held in a house inside a room for at least a week. We don't know what kind of conditions she was held in. At some point, she was sexually assaulted and then left for dead."
During the brief Friday news conference, Hernandez shared few details and refused to elaborate on specifics of the ongoing investigation.
He confirmed the Lawtons know the victim but are not related to her; he added that there is nothing yet that indicates the crime was motivated by revenge or that there was a ransom plot involved.
The woman, who is not being named because she is a victim of sexual assault, was reportedly cold and "suffering from the elements in the area" when military police found her by a Kern County highway, near Edwards Air Force Base, Hernandez said.
It was unclear how long she had been abandoned before police took her to a hospital where she was treated.
The woman, believed to be in her 40s, has since returned to Las Vegas.
In 2015, Stanley Lawton was involved in what the Las Vegas Review-Journal described as a "contentious" child custody case.
He indicated then that he lived in North Las Vegas. The paper noted Shaniya Lawton, who would have been a minor at the time, was not listed among the children in the case.
On Friday, Hernandez said investigators believe the Palmdale home where the victim was allegedly held and where police arrested the suspects is Stanley Lawton's residence.
According to jail records, the elder Lawton is being held on US$4.5 million (S$6 million) bail, while his daughter is being held in a separate facility on US$1 million bail as they await a Nov 12 court appearance.