Local/State

Suspect assaults, holds woman captive in Bethlehem, police say

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Police arrested a man wanted for allegedly holding a woman captive and assaulting her for several weeks in a Bethlehem home.

34-year-old Steven Kitchell is accused of kidnapping, beating and raping a 21-year-old woman and holding her hostage for three weeks.

"That's disgusting, that's awful and right next door to my house - it's terrifying," said Nicole Schwartz.

Schwartz lives next door to the home where the woman was held and was stunned by the news.

The victim told police she met Kitchell through a mutual friend and went to his Montclair Avenue home on May 23rd.

Investigators say Kitchell locked the young woman in a 3rd floor room and shot her with a BB gun.

He also allegedly sexually assaulted her, gave her heroin and tried to get her to work as a prostitute.

The victim told officers that two other women wandered in and out of the room at various times.

A maintenance man at the property says Kitchell has only roomed at the house for three months.

"I was shocked when I found out because I spoke with him and it was like nothing was going on," he said.

Police say after three weeks, the determined victim found the key to the deadbolt on the door and broke free.

She fled and checked into St. Luke's Hospital.

"To know that she was only a year younger than I am, I can't ever imagine myself in that kind of position. I'm proud of her for finding a way to get out," said Schwartz.

Meanwhile Kitchell fled to New Jersey but was arrested and taken into custody on June 26th.

He faces a list of charges including kidnapping, simple assault, false imprisonment, rape and sexual assault.

Investigators say there could also be more arrests and more victims.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Bethlehem City Police at 610-997-7976.

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Tags:
pennsylvania, northampton county, bethlehem, sex assault, local/state
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