Houston rapper accused of holding woman hostage for years

Houston rapper accused of holding woman hostage for years

By Faith Karimi | CNN

A Houston rapper kidnapped a pregnant woman and kept her captive in his squalid garage for more than four years despite her repeated attempts to escape, police say.

Lee Carter, 52, whose stage name is Viper, was arrested last week and charged with aggravated kidnapping, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

The charge stems from last April, when Houston police officers responded to Carter’s home after a woman texted 911 and said she was being held against her will, a criminal complaint said.

Officers said they arrived at the home, pried open the garage door and discovered a makeshift toilet that did not flush and a mattress covered with fresh vomit, along with diapers, snack chips and Twinkies, the criminal complaint said. Police said the garage had a lock on the inside that needed a key to be opened.

The woman wore filthy clothes, appeared malnourished and weighed about 70 pounds, the complaint said. She told the police she had not showered in two months and survived on chips and other snacks. She said she had contacted 911 by using a texting app on Carter’s laptop.

She said it all started when Carter saw her panhandling about four or five years ago in Houston when she was pregnant. She said he offered her $1 and asked if she needed any help.  After she said yes, Carter took her to his house and allegedly locked her in his garage, the complaint said.

She told police she’s since endured years of abuse by Carter, including him forcing her to take illegal drugs and have sex with him, the complaint said.

But Carter’s attorney, George Powell, told CNN that the couple were in a consensual relationship and have a 3-year-old child together. He said Carter will plead not guilty at his next court hearing in February.

Carter and other witnesses who know the couple “will have ample evidence to demonstrate that … they’ve been in a relationship for years,” Powell said.

Carter has proclaimed his innocence on social media

The rapper has released a handful of albums and hundreds of mixtapes and is considered a big name in cloud rap, a subgenre that features a hazy production style and relaxed beats. His most popular song, “You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack,” has 1.6 million streams on Spotify.

Carter was released Monday on a $100,000 bond and declared his innocence on social media.

“I am innocent!!! I am out of jail!!! I did not do any of the allegations and I will be fully exonerated,” he posted in all caps Tuesday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Jodi Silva, a spokesperson for the Houston Police Department, told CNN it took the police almost nine months to arrest Carter because he was not home when the woman contacted them in April. Investigators filed a warrant for his arrest at the time, but it took a while to track him down, Silva said.

It was not immediately clear what happened with the woman’s alleged pregnancy at the time she met Carter. Powell said he does not have any information on the pregnancy.

Silva, the Houston police spokesperson, said information on the pregnancy is “unknown” at this time as investigators work to piece together details.

Before last April, the woman had texted 911 several times and had been taken to the hospital, but she had never reported being abducted or abused, Silva said. During those occasions, she was released in Carter’s care after treatment, she said.

“We would take her information and we would make sure she was transported to the hospital, and the paramedics would transfer her to the hospital, but then it appears that she would go right back to him,” Silva said.

The Houston Police is in contact with the woman and she is currently living in an apartment outside the city, Silva said.

The woman says she pleaded with Carter to let her go

The woman told police she spent most of her time in the garage. Because it had no shower, she said Carter sometimes took her inside the house to clean up. She told police she tried to escape during those times, but Carter would grab her and lock her back up in the garage, the complaint said.

She woman told the police she pleaded with Carter to let her go, but he threatened her with violence.

On one occasion, she said, she broke a garage window while authorities were at the home and crawled out to get their attention. She was taken to the hospital and released to Carter, according to the criminal complaint.

Carter allegedly boarded up the windows after that incident and told a neighbor he did that to prevent her from escaping, the complaint said.

CNN’s Max Saltman contributed to this report.