Man accused of holding woman in Zebulon warehouse faces sex charge
by WNCN Staff
Robert Whiteside makes his first court appearance on charges that he held a woman against her will in a Zebulon warehouse.
Police say a 34-year-old German woman was held against her will in a Zebulon warehouse.
Robert Edward Whiteside is charged with human trafficking and assault by strangulation.
RALEIGH, N.C. -
A Zebulon man arrested Monday after a German woman told police he held her against her will in a warehouse has been charged with second-degree sexual offense.
Police say 44-year-old Robert Edward Whiteside held a German woman against her will in a warehouse he rented on Mack Todd Road in Zebulon.
Whiteside was arrested Monday after police received a tip for the woman's ex-husband in Germany. Police contacted Whiteside who agreed to meet them at the warehouse, at which point that woman told officers that she had been in the United States since June 4, and that she had been physically and sexually assaulted, and stripped of her finances.
Police said the woman was with Whiteside when he arrived to meet the officers.
Whiteside was subsequently charged with human trafficking and assault by strangulation. On Wednesday, Whiteside was additionally charged with second-degree sexual offense.
Zebulon Police Chief Tim Hayworth said police believe Whiteside met the 34-year-old woman when she responded to an online personal ad, and that he paid to fly her from Germany to the United States. Hayworth said officers found airplane ticket stubs showing Whiteside paid for the tickets.
The lead investigator on the case said she was kept inside a secret bedroom behind a closet wall inside the warehouse, which Whiteside used to refurbish bathtubs.
"It appeared to be part of a wall until you pressed on it, then it opened into a bedroom," described Scott Finch said Tuesday.
Hayworth said Whiteside told the woman that he had killed others, but police believe the claim was a scare tactic to keep her in line.
"We think that possibly was a scare tactic, but we are exploring that and called out a cadaver dog to search the property," Hayworth said.
Hayworth said police believe that Whiteside acted alone.
On Tuesday, Whiteside made his first court appearance, during which he asked the judge to reduce his bond. That was granted, with his bond falling from $250,000 to $90,000.
However on Wednesday, after being arrested on the sexual offense charge, Whiteside is being held on a $750,000 bond. He is scheduled to make a court appearance on Thursday on the additional charge.