The neighbor of a man accused of kidnapping, sexually abusing and holding a woman captive in his Oregon garage said Wednesday there appeared to be nothing unusual at the home and that the suspect once walked her pet during a near-fatal death dogfight.
Negasi Zuberi, who authorities say is linked to at least four violent sexual assaults in four states, moved to the quiet suburban neighborhood in Klamath Falls with his wife and two children about six months ago, neighbor Melanie McClure told NBC News .
Zuberi, 29, was charged with an interstate kidnapping in federal district court in Oregon after authorities arrested him on July 16. He was taken into custody after an altercation in the parking lot of a Nevada Walmart, a statement with probable cause said was unsealed Wednesday.
McClure, an occupational therapist who has lived in the neighborhood since 2016 and lives next door, said that when she introduced Zuberi, he identified himself as “Sakima” and said he just moved to the area from Colorado.
“He’s not particularly friendly, but he’s not an idiot or anything,” McClure, 45, recalled of their conversation. “I haven’t noticed anything that even remotely reflects what he’s been accused of.”
Zuberi also called himself “Justin Hyche” and “Justin Kouassi,” federal authorities said on Wednesday.
A few months after the family moved in, McClure’s two dogs — a Doberman Pinscher puppy and a much smaller Pomeranian Husky mix — got into an argument in their front yard, with the larger animal holding the smaller dog’s collar in its mouth and choking him , she said.
Zuberi “was willing to step in without asking and said, ‘Do you want help?'” McClure recalled. “I was desperate.”
When they finally released the smaller dog, he was nearly unconscious and Zuberi was performing chest compressions, McClure said.
“He saved him,” she said. “He brought it back for me.”
Afterwards, McClure said, she left the family a bottle of wine and a thank you note.
“I guess I’m surprised I didn’t notice anything,” McClure added. “Here’s the thing: Anyone can hide anything.”
McClure never learned what Zuberi did for a living but said he doesn’t appear to be following a 9-5 schedule. His wife was a “very nice” mother who had no idea of her husband’s alleged crimes, she said.
“She’s trying her best to deal with it,” McClure said.
Attempts to reach Zuberi’s wife were unsuccessful.
Zuberi’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Zuberi’s landlord, Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall, and her husband, Kevin Westfall, said in a statement Wednesday that they were “shocked and dismayed by what happened.”
The couple filed an eviction notice on July 21, notifying Zuberi and “everyone else” 24 hours in advance that the property had suffered “personal injury, significant property damage, an extremely outrageous act, or an unlawful occupant.”
In the statement, the Westfalls commended local, state and federal police, as well as the woman, who authorities said was able to escape from a makeshift cinder block cell where Zuberi allegedly held her captive.
According to the probable cause statement, Zuberi was posing as a police officer when he allegedly approached the woman, a sex worker, in Seattle on July 15, pointed a stun gun at her and said he had to take her into custody.
Zuberi is accused of handcuffing and handcuffing her and sexually assaulting her on the way to his home about 450 miles south of Seattle, the statement said. Once there, the woman was asleep, “but awoke briefly with the realization that unless she tried to escape, she was likely to die,” the statement said.
“Police say they banged their hands on the door until they were bloody to try to free themselves,” Assistant Special Agent Stephanie Shark of the FBI’s Portland field office told reporters Wednesday.
As she was outside, she said, she stopped a passing motorist who called 911.
When officers searched Zuberi’s home, they found a handwritten note that read, “Operation takes over,” with bullet points, “Leave the phone at home,” and “Make sure you don’t have too many people in your life.” no investigations,” the statement said.
Shark said Zuberi has been linked to four other violent sexual assaults in at least four states, but did not disclose where those incidents took place.
He lived in it 12 states — California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Alabama, and Nevada — may have used a variety of methods to target victims, including drug use and counterfeiting, over the past decade a police officer, the FBI said.
The agency started one investigation website Here, potential victims or anyone else with information about the case can fill out a form to provide more information.