Man accused of holding woman captive for months caught near Orlando after cross-county chase

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) on Monday engaged in a multi-county pursuit of a man described as having a violent criminal history, which authorities said included the kidnapping of a woman in January whom he physically abused and forcibly dragged around the Tampa Bay Area for weeks. 

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the victim met Walter Medina, 48, in January while she was panhandling in the area of Hillsborough Avenue and Habana Avenue. Deputies said that in the beginning, Medina gave her food and drugs, but he turned violent and held her captive.

For two-and-a-half months, investigators said Medina tortured the victim, repeatedly assaulting her with a wooden baseball bat and a screwdriver. The alleged attacks resulted in the victim breaking her ribs, causing deep puncture wounds as well as extensive bruising, according to HCSO.

Walter Medina (Photo: Orange County Jail)

On Monday, Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies were sent to a Mobil gas station in Seffner after a caller said an injured woman had just escaped from a minivan and needed help. Deputies said when they arrived, they saw several injuries to the victim’s face and body. She said she had escaped the minivan while Medina was inside a nearby drug store.  She was taken to an area hospital for medical treatment. 

"I can’t imagine the torture this victim endured for months, but I can imagine the relief she felt when our deputies arrived," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "I have to commend the bravery of the victim for escaping her captor and seeking help. Our thoughts are with her as she recovers from this traumatic ordeal."

Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Medina for attempted second-degree murder, armed kidnapping, armed false imprisonment, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, tampering with a witness, and tampering with physical evidence.

On Tuesday, Medina was spotted in Polk County and pursued down Interstate 4 into Orange County in excess of 100 mph, where multiple law enforcement agencies responded.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) engaged in a multi-county pursuit of a vehicle which was fleeing from the Lakeland Police Department in Polk County.

According to authorities, Medina eventually exited I-4 onto John Young Parkway and crashed into a concrete median barrier. Subsequently, a K-9 unit was deployed, and troopers apprehended him with the assistance of the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Lakeland Police Department.


"This suspect's reign of violent terror is now over," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "I am endlessly grateful for our law enforcement partners who put their lives on the line in service and protection of our community while apprehending this suspect. This joint effort exemplifies the strength of our community's law enforcement network and our shared commitment to keeping our streets safe."

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Medina has served time in prison for a previous false imprisonment case and has an arrest history, including kidnapping, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and robbery.

Following Medina’s pursuit from law enforcement, he faces additional charges, including reckless driving with damage to a person or property, fleeing to elude law enforcement at high speed, and hit-and-run while leaving the scene of a crash involving damage to property.

Medina was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center by EMS while troopers followed. Upon release from the hospital, Medina will be delivered to the Orange County Jail, where he will be booked on the above charges.