Local News

Police: Woman held captive at Zebulon warehouse

Posted June 9, 2014
Updated June 10, 2014

— Police on Monday arrested a man who they suspect was holding a woman from Germany in involuntary servitude inside a secret room at a Zebulon warehouse. 

Zebulon Police Chief Timothy Hayworth said that investigators went to the warehouse, at 511 Mack-Todd Road, Monday morning after receiving a tip from a man in Germany about his ex-wife being kidnapped.

Detectives arranged a meeting with the warehouse's tenant, Robert E. Whiteside, 45, and were able to interview the 34-year-old woman who arrived with him for the meeting.

Hayworth said she told police she had been in Zebulon since June 4 and that the man sexually assaulted her and also took her money, credit cards and phone.

"He would not let her leave, and he took away her ability to leave," Hayworth said.

Whiteside, whose address is listed on court records as 511 Mack-Todd Road, has been charged with human trafficking and assault by strangulation.

Hayworth said he expects more charges as the investigation moves forward.

Investigators spent several hours Monday at the warehouse, where they searched a cluttered outbuilding and found about 10 guns and pornography as well as what Hayworth described as a secret bedroom behind a closet wall.

He would not elaborate on other evidence inside the building.

The woman, who reportedly was able to send an email for help, has since been moved to safety, Hayworth said, and appeared to be in good health.

"She's ecstatic to be with us, very relieved," he said.

Hayworth said that Whiteside and the woman apparently met on a dating website where he allegedly had been advertising for a girlfriend or wife who was from Germany or Russia.

"She has been physically assaulted and put through some terrifying times with our suspect," he said. "We believe he made threats to her, stating he has killed other people in the past, and (he) let her believe her life was in danger."

Hayworth said that police have no reason, right now, to believe there are other victims but that police are looking into the statement. He noted that the investigation is still in its early stages and that more work is needed.

“We are actually going to bring out a cadaver dog – just to come out and do a search of the area – just to make sure there is nothing else," he said. "We have no reason to believe that, but we want to check everything while we are here on an active search warrant."

Whiteside runs a company from the warehouse, where he refurbishes bathtubs for hotels and apartment buildings.


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  • landonsgrampa Jun 10, 2014

    Why are you people arguing about guns? The only mention of a gun, was that simply.... "Investigators spent several hours Monday at the warehouse, where they searched a cluttered outbuilding and found about 10 guns and pornography as well as what Hayworth described as a secret bedroom behind a closet wall". There is no report of him using any guns on this woman. Come into my home. You will find a carp load of guns. That does not mean that I have committed any crimes.

  • Christopher Rose Jun 10, 2014
    user avatar

    why would he willingly bring her to the police station? Doesn't this seem fishy?

  • disgusted2010 Jun 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Don't try to confuse a died in the wool anti-constitutionalist. If he had his way ALL guns would be illegal.

  • disgusted2010 Jun 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Do you have access to the NRA's membership roster? Didn't think so. One more example of how the anti's will not let the truth or facts stop their taliban-like activities designed to take away people's constitutional rights?

  • bushido2298 Jun 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    The NRA does not make gun laws, your argument is invalid
    States make and regulate their own gun laws.
    We have more murder because we have a larger population of violent criminals as well as the largest population that is centered around the sensationalizing of criminal behaivor , look at the FBI stats on murder and assault, hammers and knives are killing people 200-300% more than ILLEGALY owned firearms.
    Oh, and I checked, my legal firearms are still in their cases and didn't run out and hurt anyone.

  • lavenderdejectedmoon Jun 10, 2014

    This is so frightening. Good thing the ex noticed her missing.

  • 678devilish Jun 10, 2014

    Horrible! How many women are actually being held against their will? I do hope and pray this young lady will be OK in time. The person that did this to her should be lock up in prison for many years to come.

  • Grand Union Jun 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Because thats the reality of life in America.
    We do not have 4X the murder rate of other countries because of a geographical accident.

    This guy was another of the NRAs "responsible gun owners"
    Do you think he should have been allowed to own guns?

  • sjb2k1 Jun 10, 2014

    well that's pretty awful

  • Sara Hauser Jun 10, 2014
    user avatar

    wonder whose photo he used to lure her her-surely not a real one, IMHO