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Officials Say Man Beaten, Held Prisoner

Two Twentynine Palms residents are arrested after he is discovered at a Marine housing unit.

September 01, 2006|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

Two Twentynine Palms residents were arrested late Wednesday on suspicion of imprisoning and torturing a 22-year-old man over the course of three days at a military housing unit at the Marine base.

The victim, Christopher Bickford, told San Bernardino County sheriff's officials that Dale Shane Adams, 23, and Esther Nicole Woody, 25, stole money from him before taking him captive, tying him to a chair and beating him.

Bickford was discovered Wednesday when a visitor to the home found him tied to a chair in the bathroom. The two suspects were not at the home, authorities said.

Sheriff's officials said Bickford had wounds all over his body, consistent with someone who had been beaten. He also had severe wounds to his neck, arms, wrists and ankles that officials said were probably caused by ropes and duct tape.

The suspects and the victim knew one another, said Arden Wiltshire, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman. None of those involved were in the military.

Sheriff's detectives were trying to determine why the attack occurred, Wiltshire said.

A relative of Bickford in Twentynine Palms said Christopher was doing "fine" and had received medical treatment. She had no further comment on the allegations.

Adams and Woody were booked at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of torture, false imprisonment, grand theft, possession of drugs and child endangerment. A 7-year-old child and an infant were found at the home on Rainbow Canyon Road, although sheriff's officials could not confirm whether they were taken into protective custody.

The suspects' bail was set at $500,000 each.

Adams, who pleaded guilty to possession of drugs for sale last year, also had a $10,000 outstanding warrant and was found in possession of firearms.

Military officials at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center confirmed that the home where the alleged torture occurred is assigned to a Marine currently stationed in Iraq. Adams was an unauthorized guest at the home, a military spokesman said.

Woody's husband, Sgt. Travis S. Woody, received a Bronze Star on his first tour of Iraq and a Purple Heart during his second tour, when he was wounded by a roadside bomb.

A relative of Travis Woody in North Carolina said the couple had been married seven or eight years.

John Tyrrell contributed to this report.

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