Local News

Zebulon man faces new charge in human trafficking case

Posted June 11, 2014

— A man accused of holding a woman from Germany captive in a Zebulon warehouse faces a new charge in the case.

Zebulon Police Chief Timothy Hayworth said Wednesday that Robert Edward Whiteside, 45, has been charged with one count of second-degree sex offense.

He was arrested Monday on two counts of assault by strangulation and one count of sexual servitude of an adult victim after the 34-year-old woman's estranged husband contacted police about an email he received in which she asked for money and hinted that she was in trouble.

Whiteside, who runs a refurbishing business at the warehouse, at 511 Mack-Todd Road, was in the Wake County Detention Center Wednesday morning under a $90,000 secured bond on Monday's charges.

The latest charge, in which he was given a $750,000 secured bond, means he will be in court again Thursday.

Whiteside told a judge Tuesday that his arrest is a misunderstanding and that he is not a troublemaker.

Hayworth said Whiteside and the woman met on a dating website and that she traveled from Germany to meet him.

Police say Whiteside has dated women from other countries and has also traveled to Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Colombia and Peru. Hayworth said there's currently no evidence to suggest he's committed similar crimes but that detectives are still investigating.

Anyone with information that could help investigators can call Zebulon Crime Stoppers at 919-366-3698 or the Zebulon Police Department at 919-823-1818.


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  • Hecate Jun 12, 2014

    This is whole thing is a fish story... no one is telling the truth and should make for interesting headlines in the next few weeks...

  • wral_viewer Jun 12, 2014

    The police were able to find the location by using information related to the email that the estranged husband received. I'm not sure why anyone would question why someone was able to email an "estranged" husband. If you felt like you were in danger, I imagine you'd email anyone you thought was able to help right?

    Also, if the man is being charged with a servitude offense, it seems there is some sort of evidence that she was being held in some way right?

    As far as the neck bruising...how does one "allege" that, it's either there or not. Medical people can determine how old/new they are.

    Maybe I'm mistaken and there is no effort to use evidence, lol.

  • Milton Bailey Jun 11, 2014
    user avatar

    Methinks the whole thing is rotten, if not it sure smells that way.

  • glarg Jun 11, 2014

    View quoted thread

    safe room?

    The earlier report said that it locked from the inside, not the outside.

    All we know about it is that the police characterized it as a "secret bedroom". Not that the Russian ever was in it.

  • landonsgrampa Jun 11, 2014

    People have secret underground bunkers. Why is this secret room idea so bad? Notice I said "idea". If this guy used this room for the purpose of a sexual attack, he should be given the death penalty. This does not however, intend that the idea of having a secret room, is bad in any way.

  • Veronica Hammond Jun 11, 2014
    user avatar

    How did the husband know her location? If "estranged", why are they still communicating?

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jun 11, 2014

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    Like I said elsewhere here "...who with good intentions would NEED to have a "secret hidden bedroom" anywhere, let alone in a place of business."

    I'd LOVE to have an answer to THAT question.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jun 11, 2014

    This whole story creeps me out.

    That the woman had bruises around her neck coroborates some of her side of the story. Prayers for her for sure.

  • aqualung Jun 11, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Not yet.

  • Todd Singleton Jun 11, 2014
    user avatar

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    And if they find out the woman traveled to him of her own accord and an accomplice, the "estranged husband", called in a tip to police I hope they call out Zellinger for trumped up prosecution. Probably won't happen though. If the Zebulon cops find anything degrading or contrary to the case they're trying to build it would be a miracle if they bring it forward.

    If he's truly getting duped he should lawyer up and take it to a jury instead of agreeing to any plea they're trying to scare him into.