Police were searching Monday for the owner of a B.C. second-hand store where a woman was allegedly assaulted and held captive for up to 15 hours, and they warned that he poses a threat.
“He’s still wanted and still out there,” RCMP Corporal Dan Moskaluk said of David Wesley Bobbitt, who is wanted on a charge of attempted murder. “We’re not sure where he is, so there’s a certain degree of public safety at hand.”
More than 12 hours after the woman went missing, a relative of hers kicked down the the store’s door, according to police. Inside Dave's Second Hand store in Penticton, B.C., was the 22-year-old woman. For 12 to 15 hours she was allegedly confined, viciously beaten and sexually assaulted while her 22-month-old son was left to watch, until they were found during the early hours of Sunday, Cpl. Moskaluk said.
Mother and child were rushed to hospital, where the woman has had surgery to treat severe lacerations to her skull. The child has been released into the care of relatives in the area.
“It’s our understanding that the assault took place in full view of the child,” Cpl. Moskaluk said Monday. “Which makes this quite a disturbing case. The victim, as a mother, probably felt the need to protect her child.”
Mr. Bobbitt was known to police and had a history of violence, the officer said, although none of the other incidents were at the downtown Ellis Street property that he had been leasing for nearly two years.
The woman, who is also from Penticton, had been telling her family about her plans to go shopping on Saturday before she was scheduled to work, Cpl. Moskaluk said. She didn’t know Mr. Bobbitt, police said, but she may have been visiting the store for a second time after recently seeing something she was interested in buying.
She entered the store in the old, single-level building, her toddler in tow, when no other customers were there at around midday, police said. Soon after the door was locked.
Cpl. Moskaluk said he’s unaware where she was held in the roughly 75,000-square-metre building, which has a few small stockrooms.
The woman didn’t make it to her 3 p.m. shift and her family hadn’t heard from her for hours. She was reported missing late on Saturday.
In the early hours of Sunday, her family found her car near the store. As police searched the area, a family member broke down the door of the second-hand store, Cpl. Moskaluk said.
Moments later, police searched the building and found the woman bound and the child nearby, he said. As the front door was forced open, the suspect may have fled through the back door, which was ajar when police arrived.