Cops ask dating app users to help find man accused of torturing women
Dating apps are helping an attempted murderer evade capture in Oregon, the Grants Pass Police Department warned last week after the suspect escaped arrest.
The accused 36-year-old man, Benjamin Obadiah Foster, allegedly received assistance from a 68-year-old woman named Tina Marie Jones, who has since been arrested for hindering prosecution.
Ars was not able to immediately reach Grants Pass PD for comment on which dating apps Foster is known to be using. After arresting Jones, the department vaguely reported that its search revealed that Foster is “actively using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting individuals who may be lured into assisting with the suspect’s escape or potentially as additional victims.”
A spokesperson for the dating app Bumble told Ars: “Our team has been working around the clock to identify any members based on the information that is available to us at this time. As of now, we have not located any members with the name Benjamin Obadiah Foster on Bumble.”
Bumble’s spokesperson told Ars that “any time” the dating app becomes aware of reports of potentially dangerous users, the company takes “swift action against” accounts, with any profile that violates community safety guidelines “getting blocked from the app for good.”
“These are horrific crimes,” Bumble’s spokesperson told Ars. “We extend our deepest thoughts to all of the victims’ family and loved ones. We have a dedicated law enforcement team available to respond to any requests from law enforcement as needed and a law enforcement portal to facilitate access to data for investigative purposes.”
Dating apps have recently come under fire over user safety concerns. Last month, the Match Group, which owns Tinder, Match, Hinge, OKCupid, PlentyOfFish, and other dating apps, rolled out a background check feature on Tinder that could help some dating app users avoid potentially dangerous matches. Some experts told The Guardian that the background check tool may be inefficient for weeding out unsafe matches, though.
A Match Group spokesperson told Ars that the company has searched for Foster on its apps to no avail.
“At this time, we haven’t been able to locate this person on our platform,” Match Group’s spokesperson said. “We are continuing to look into this and will let you know if anything changes on our end.”
Ars could not reach any of the other popular dating apps to confirm whether Foster’s active profiles have been flagged or if dating apps are actively coordinating with police to locate the suspect.
Police report that they’re depending on citizens to help in this arrest, sharing that the blue-eyed Foster is 6 feet tall, weighs 180 pounds, and has brown hair that he frequently wears in a bun. They’ve offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to Foster’s arrest, warning not to approach the suspect because Foster is believed to be armed with a handgun and considered “extremely dangerous.” Anyone with information can call the Grants Pass Police tip line at 541-237-5607.
Grants Pass PD warn that Foster may change his hair or shave his beard to avoid detection by app users, recommending that users pay close attention to his facial structure and eyes in a photo shared by media.
“We are confident this dangerous criminal will soon be captured with the assistance of a concerned citizen,” Grants Pass PD said in a statement yesterday.
Foster is not just accused of attempted murder in Oregon but was also convicted in 2019 for kidnapping another woman for two weeks in Nevada. The other victim escaped during a shared grocery store trip, and Foster could have faced decades in prison for assault and battery, but in August 2021, he reached a plea deal and spent just 200 days in state custody, AP reported. Now, Oregon police say they’re searching “round-the-clock” to find him, coordinating with federal partners and seemingly relying on a data trail on his dating apps.
“We are using every piece of technology available to locate this man,” Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman told AP.
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