Uber Driver Accused Of Kidnapping Customer
PANORAMA CITY (CBSLA.com) — A for-hire driver for a popular ride-share company faced possible kidnapping charges Tuesday after allegedly taking a female client to a hotel room, police said.
Frederick Dencer, 32, of Encino was arrested Monday after a 26-year-old local woman called police at 6 a.m. from a 7-11 market in Panorama City to report she had just left a motel room where a man had been lying next to her shirtless, according to the LAPD Mission Division.
The woman did not know the man and did not remember how she got there, police said.
Investigators later determined the woman had been “bar-hopping” in West Los Angeles and said the suspect was not on duty with Uber at the time. However, police say they do believe his status as an Uber driver put him in the position to commit the alleged crime.
Police say the woman’s phone had run out of battery life, so there was no way to determine whether she had called Uber for a ride from the Graystone Manor nightclub, her last stop. They say a valet at the nightclub asked an Uber driver who had dropped off another fare to drive the woman home.
“Once in the car, she couldn’t express her address, where she lived, and he ends up taking her to this motel miles from her home, miles from his home, and many miles from West L.A.,” Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of Mission Detective Division, said.
The woman was able to point out the Panorama Motel to investigators and officers were able to locate the room where the only male tenant matching the suspect’s description had checked in, police said.
“Dencer answered questions but his story didn’t make sense,”Vernon said. “Once the officers watched video from the motel, they realized the victim was carried into the motel, and that didn’t jive with Dencer’s several stories.”
Police believe Dencer – who is a driver for Uber and had had a fare Monday night – had been hanging out at the Graystone Manor after another fare when he was asked to take the woman home.
According to investigators, had it been an official Uber assignment, Dencer would have received the victim’s home address with the fare. In this case, however, the victim was too drunk to tell him, police said.
“So it looks like Dencer took advantage of the situation, and drove her to a cheap motel, which he had visited before, and carried her into the room,” Vernon explained. “He slept the night in the room, and when she awoke, he let her leave, though he asked her to stay, according to the victim.”
A spokesperson for Uber released the following statement to CBS2/KCAL9 Tuesday, saying in part: “…The facts are unknown at this stage and it’s certainly unclear that this is an Uber-related incident, ad the driver in question was not logged in, connected to or operating on the platform at the time. We have reached out to authorities and will work with them to help uncover the facts.”
Dencer was booked on suspicion of kidnap for the purpose of sexual assault. His bail was set at $1 million.
No court date had been set.