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Iowa teen who killed rapist back in custody after escape

Pieper Lewis, 18, was booked into custody Tuesday after she escaped from a women's center where she was serving probation, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
Pieper Lewis speaks during a sentencing hearing
Pieper Lewis speaks at a sentencing hearing Sept. 13.Zach Boyden-Holmes / The Register/USA TODAY NETWORK file

The Iowa teenager who escaped last week from a women's residential correctional center where she was serving probation after having pleaded guilty to killing a man she said raped her is back in custody, authorities said.

Pieper Lewis, 18, was booked on charges of probation violation and escape from custody around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Evans said.

She was arrested in Des Moines by a Fifth Judicial Circuit task force, Evans said.

More information about how or where she was found or how she escaped was not immediately available.

Had Lewis completed five years of closely supervised probation, her prison sentence would have been expunged.

Prosecutors are now requesting a hearing to revoke her probation, which could require her to serve the full 20-year sentence, according to a probation violation report.

She is scheduled for a hearing Nov. 18 and plans to hire her own attorney, court documents said.

Lewis was seen walking out of the Fresh Start Women’s Center in Des Moines shortly after 6:15 a.m. Friday, and at some point that day her GPS monitor was cut off, according to a probation violation report.

Prosecutors had said the probation sentence she was given in September was merciful for a teenager who endured horrible abuse, although some questioned the $150,000 restitution she was ordered to pay. A GoFundMe campaign raised over $560,000 to cover the restitution and pay for her other needs.

Polk County District Judge David Porter told Lewis in September that her probation sentence “was the second chance you asked for. You don’t get a third,” The Des Moines Register reported.

Lewis pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in the June 2020 killing of Zachary Brooks, 37, a married father of two. Lewis was 15 when she stabbed Brooks more than 30 times in a Des Moines apartment.

Lewis has said that she was trafficked against her will to Brooks for sex multiple times and that she stabbed him in a fit of rage. Police and prosecutors did not dispute that Lewis was sexually assaulted and trafficked.

NBC News and The Associated Press do not typically name victims of sexual assault, but Lewis agreed to have her name used previously in stories about her case.