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Crime News

Oregon Woman Pleads Not Guilty To Helping Kidnapping Suspect Benjamin Foster Evade Police

Tina Marie Foster allegedly helped kidnapping suspect Benjamin Foster evade police and gave him a ride after he drove his vehicle off an embankment to destroy evidence. 

By Christina Coulter
A police handout of Benjamin Obadiah Foster

An Oregon woman is facing charges for allegedly helping a kidnapping suspect evade police and destroy evidence of his alleged crimes. 

Tina Marie Jones, 68, pleaded not guilty to the crimes of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence at a Josephine County Circuit Court hearing Friday, according to Oregon television station KTVL

According to court documents reviewed by the outlet and press releases from the Grants Pass Police Department, Jones helped Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, dispose of the vehicle he allegedly used to kidnap a woman on Jan. 24. 

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"Jones followed Foster via vehicle to a remote location in Wolf Creek, Oregon, where Foster intentionally drove his vehicle off an embankment. Jones then immediately provided Foster with a ride via vehicle back" to an address where she "had allowed Foster to stay while he was actively evading arrest," Jones' arrest affidavit stated, according to the station. 

Then, she allegedly "took substantial steps to aid Foster with evading law enforcement apprehension and took substantial steps to suppress or destroy physical evidence that would have aided Law Enforcement in the apprehension of Foster."

Foster died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Grants Pass hospital on Jan. 31 after an hours-long standoff with police, according to an earlier report from KTVL. He reportedly hid in a crawl space under a house while a SWAT team tried to negotiate with him unsuccessfully. 

Police were called to the scene after he was spotted walking a small dog in the area. Police had sought the public's help in locating Foster a week before, distributing photos of Foster and characterizing the fugitive as "extremely dangerous" and a "serial predator."

Oxygen.com could not reach the Grants Pass Police Department to confirm whether Foster was found at Jones' home or to determine the relationship between the two parties. 

Jones is currently being held at Josephine County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, according to FOX 26 Medford. Her attorney argued for her pretrial release on Friday due to an alleged cancer diagnosis. 

“She has a myriad of different medications that are necessary for her health that she is unable to receive in the Josephine County Jail,” Jones’ lawyer Brodia Minter said, “If her blood clots in her body because she is not able to get her cancer medication, it is going to be bad for everybody.”

Oxygen.com confirmed with the court that Jones' next hearing regarding a potential pretrial release will take place on Tuesday.

A warrant was issued for Foster's arrest after authorities found his alleged female victim on Jan. 24. The woman, who was in critical condition last Wednesday, told police she knew Foster before the attack. She was bound and severely beaten when she was discovered by police, and had been tortured for a "protracted amount of time" before her rescue, Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman said at a press conference. 

Prosecutors said Foster intended to kill the woman, and charged him attempted murder, kidnapping, and assault. 

Before he was apprehended by police, prosecutors said, Foster killed two additional men via blunt force trauma. Their corpses were discovered by Oregon State sheriff's deputies on Jan. 31, according to reporting by CNN. A motive in those killings is unclear. 

Foster narrowly evaded capture on Jan. 28 after he "likely received assistance fleeing the area" of his parents' property in Wolf Creek, according to an earlier Grants Pass Police Department press release. Foster's 2008 Nissan Sentra was seized along with other pieces of evidence. It's unclear whether this was the vehicle that was driven off the embankment.

At least two other woman who had previous relationships with Foster reported him for abuse, according to Clark County, Nevada court records from cases in Las Vegas reviewed by CNN. 

In 2019, Foster was charged in Las Vegas for felony battery constituting domestic violence after he was arrested for allegedly holding his ex-girlfriend hostage. He allegedly shaved the woman’s head and forced her to eat a sandwich filled with lye. The victim suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes and other injuries from having been bound with duct tape and zip ties. He ultimately entered a plea deal and served 200 days in prison. 

Additionally, he'd previously served time for felony battery constituting domestic violence in 2017, according to NBC News.

Despite the past convictions, Foster was able to use online dating apps, raising concerns about whether app users are vetted prior to their joining. Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and Match Group, the parent company of Match, Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid and Plenty of Fish, told NBC News that it does not believe Foster was using their apps based on the information provided to the public.