KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Lathrop, Missouri, man was charged Monday for allegedly assaulting and torturing a woman for two days, before she escaped on Saturday in southeast Apache Drive in Lake Arrowhead, according to police.
The property is tucked back into the trees with a dilapidated wooden fence covering most of it. Driving by, you would have no idea that, according to court records, a woman was living out one of most horrific days a person can have.
Now, residents of Lake Arrowhead are wondering how this happened in the first place.
James Larson Jr., 39, was charged with first degree domestic assault, kidnapping, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a concealable firearm.
The woman told police she had met Larson Jr. through Facebook and had been with him since Thursday, according to a probable cause statement submitted by detectives. She said out of nowhere, he got violent, punching her, kicking her with steel toed boots and hitting her in the head with what she described as an ice pick.
She also said he attempted to her cut with a bowie knife and made her clean up her own blood. She said he pointed a shotgun at her while making threats against her and her children.
Documents also say she told police he threatened to "slit her throat if she called the cops," and did not allow her to eat or use the restroom. She said she was given a drink from Larson Jr. that "tasted like medicine," the probable cause statement says.
Only when Larson Jr. passed out was the woman able to escape, running to a neighbor's house who called the police.
She was taken to a hospital for treatment Saturday. The probable cause statement says she had bruises, dark coloration, a laceration on her left leg, cuts and bruises on her hands, a swollen forehead and was going in and out of consciousness.
The woman remains in hospital care.
"We’re looking at all the facts and we don’t have them all together, so we really can’t piece together the entire story or the timeline just yet. We’re still investigating this," Major Trevor Ballard with the Clinton County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.
When the police got to the house, Larson Jr. barricaded himself and refused to come out. A SWAT team surrounded the house. At one point, the police said Larson Jr. was seen at the gate, but he ran back inside.
The Cameron Police Department, Lathrop Police Department, Plattsburg Police Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol assisted the Clinton County Sheriff's Office.
After an hours-long standoff, a K-9 unit went inside the home and found Larson Jr. hiding inside a fake wall. He was arrested and is now at the Clinton County Jail.
According to court records, Larson's dad, James Larson Sr. and a cousin were at the house when the woman was there, too.
Larson Sr. did not want to talk to KSHB 41 News, but he told investigators that he tried to get the woman to leave Lake Arrowhead, but he didn't call the police.
Larson Sr. said his son woke up, grabbed a .12 gauge shotgun, pointed it at him and threatened to "shoot him in the head and kill him."
His son threatened to kill himself, but Larson Sr. said he was able to calm his son down and hide the gun in the garage.
Larson Sr. said he could hear the woman in a bedroom with Larson Jr. screaming.
When the police came to the house, Larson Sr. said his son was a danger to himself and others and to "lock him up forever."
Larson Jr. told denied ever laying a hand on the woman and claimed to have never touched a gun.
"I was kind of infuriated," Steve Berg, one of the Lake Arrowhead Board of Trustees, said.
This was the reaction many Lake Arrowhead residents had when they found out what happened.
"I have a 13-year-old son, and I would hate for him to be in an environment to where I'd have to worry about that, and here we are," Berg said.
Larson Jr. has an extensive rap sheet. He just got out of an Oklahoma prison. His past charges range from battery, assault and gun and drug possession.
"This guy is well known to the town, evidently. I had no idea," Berg said, who is relatively new to Lake Arrowhead.
Berg said the first week of May, someone complained to him that Larson Jr. was staying with his dad.
"They were just like, 'He’s back from Oklahoma and staying on his dad’s lot and he’s known for extreme violent behavior. And he shouldn’t be here,'" Berg said.
Berg says they'll ramp up patrols in the gated community and make sure people like Larson Jr. aren't hiding out there.
"We probably go out there more than we would like to and it’s been the goal of the sheriff and the goal of the county commission to really start looking at some of the problems that have gone on out there in the past," Ballard said. "There are a lot of really good people that live out there that have some nice properties and they’re concerned about some of these activities, as they should be, as we all would be if this was happening in our neighborhood."
KSHB 41 News learned Larson Jr. had a run-in with police just a week prior, on May 6, when police busted him and a friend for drugs at a gas station in Holt.
According to court records, around 10:15 p.m. that night, the clerk saw two men in a black car in the parking lot "acting weird," and that they were putting something over their faces and taking it off.
Clinton County sheriff's deputies responded, finding cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in the car.
Larson Jr. was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use.
Larson Jr. and the friend were put on a 24-hour hold and released, something the Clinton County Sheriff's Office couldn't comment on.
"Once the arrest and everything has been made and the paperwork is done, it’s kind of out of the police department's powers of what happens after that," Ballard said. "It goes to the court systems and they look at things and they judge it how they judge it."
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.