BOZEMAN – A Helena woman who was reportedly assaulted and kidnapped escaped from her captor following a pursuit Tuesday morning.
According to charging documents, Thomas James Lucero, 28, was arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and assault with a weapon on Tuesday, January 29.
Lucerno appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court Wednesday morning. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim and is being held on a $250,000 bail. His next court appearance is set for Friday, February 22.
He was arrested after law enforcement received reports of a vehicle driving erratically toward Gallatin County from the Townsend area. At approximately 9:30 a.m the vehicle was located on Highway 287.
The vehicle, driven by the woman, failed to yield to a deputy’s lights and sirens. The woman then turned onto Interstate 90, proceeding east. About 10 miles into the pursuit spike strips were used to disable the vehicle’s tires, near Logan. When the vehicle was stopped, the woman ran from the vehicle to the safety of law enforcement officers.
The woman told officers that she didn’t initially stop when she saw the emergency lights because she didn’t believe one officer would be enough to protect her.
According to charging documents, Lucero allegedly had been in an intimate relationship with the woman for a few weeks. On Monday night, the woman had gone to bed, but Lucero had stayed awake and reportedly proceeded to drink beer and tequila.
At about 2 a.m. the woman heard loud music and noise coming from the living room and kitchen. When confronted, the woman said Lucero became enraged and began to physically assault her including slashing and cutting her with numerous knives. The woman also told officers that Lucero sexually assaulted her while reportedly holding a knife to her throat while threatening to kill her.
The assaults reportedly lasted until the woman’s alarm went off at 7:30 a.m. when Lucero told the woman she was going to drive him to Billings. The woman drove from Helena toward Broadwater County on Highway 287.
While passing through Townsend, the woman said Lucero began to fall asleep, but each time she slowed the vehicle, he would reportedly wake up and threaten her life if she tried to escape.
The woman said she kept the speed of the vehicle at a reasonable speed, but purposely swerved toward oncoming traffic, while flashing her lights, hoping someone would notify law enforcement.
Law enforcement was notified of the vehicle driving erratically and Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office requested an agency assist from Gallatin County.
When Lucero was taken into custody, he told officers that he was in an intimate relationship with the woman and that he had consumed hard alcohol and beer on the previous night. Lucero admitted having at least two different knives and that the woman was cut by a knife he was holding at the time.
At the time of this arrest, bloodstains were found on Lucero’s pants and shoes. Helena detectives also located blood evidence at the woman’s residence consistent with her statement.
Lucero is expected to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court Wednesday morning.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.