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Police: Woman who posted online ad kidnapped, raped

A New York woman who posted a Craigslist ad seeking housing and a "fresh start" in New England was instead held captive and raped by a New Hampshire town official, authorities say.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The New York woman posted a Craigslist ad seeking housing, saying she was looking to make a "fresh start" in New England.

What she found instead, police say, was a New Hampshire town official who held her captive in his home for three days and raped her.

Salem planning board member Jeffrey Gray was arraigned Wednesday on rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault charges. He was being held on bond, and his lawyer, Mark Stevens, declined to comment on when he might post it.

Gray, 48, has a record of arrests for criminal threatening and criminal mischief and a history of restraining orders linked to domestic abuse, Windham Police Capt. Mike Caron said.

The 34-year-old woman went to Gray's rented Windham home voluntarily on March 5, but was not allowed to leave until days later, when Gray drove her to Logan International Airport in Boston, police said. Instead of boarding a plane, however, she told a Massachusetts state trooper about her ordeal, authorities said.

The woman was treated for minor injuries and released from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on March 9.

The court file on the case was sealed, and Windham police would not identify where in New York the woman lives.

Gray responded to the woman's ad and the two communicated by computer for a day or so before she arrived March 5 at the house he'd rented only weeks earlier, Caron said. She was initially there voluntarily but that quickly changed, Caron said.

He would not say how Gray restrained or otherwise forced her to stay in the lakefront home.

Court officials said Gray is the subject of a protection order filed by an ex-girlfriend who said he threatened and abused her and her children. The woman said Gray repeatedly phoned her and sent her text messages in late February. She wrote that Salem police came to her house at 1:30 a.m. one morning asking if she knew his whereabouts, because he had called a suicide hotline and they thought he be a threat to her. The woman could not be located by The Associated Press.

Police obtained warrants for Gray's arrest in mid-March but could not locate him. He was arrested Tuesday at a veterans' hospital in Brockton, Mass. It was not clear why or when he checked himself into that hospital, but Stevens said he thought Gray had been in Brockton for about two weeks.

Caron said they were in touch with Stevens for several days prior to Gray's arrest, when they thought Gray would surrender. But that scenario began to appear less likely Tuesday.

"We weren't comfortable and chose to have him arrested by the Brockton police," Caron said.

Gray participated in his Salem arraignment Wednesday by video feed from the Rockingham County jail. He scheduled to be in court April 5 for a probable cause hearing.

Gray is a self-employed civil engineer who was elected to the Salem Planning Board a year ago, said board Chairman James Keller. Gray missed planning board meetings on March 8 and 22, emailing in advance to say he wouldn't attend because of "family matters," Keller said.

Keller said he believes Gray should resign, but he has not been able to reach him to tell him so.

"I think it's fairly obvious to everyone that he should simply resign and let the town move on," Keller said. He said he did not know Gray personally.

Kevin Bleeker, who owns the house Gray was renting, said Gray began a six-month lease on the property Feb. 11.

"I thought he was pretty reputable," Bleeker said. "I should have done a background check. I would have found he had a long history of problems with women."