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Iowa man faked his own death in ruse to get his ex-girlfriend inside his apartment, police say

Although the alleged ruse was fake, the fear experienced by an Iowa man's victims was real, police said.

An Iowa man faked his own death in a ruse to lure his ex-girlfriend to his apartment where he then entrapped her and a teen girl with a replica BB gun, authorities said Friday.

Zack Lee Smith, 20, of Sioux City, is charged with two felony counts of false imprisonment, said a spokesman with the city’s police department. Police said Smith’s con included posing as his father and writing emails to his former sweetheart informing her Smith died by suicide and he wanted her to pick up possessions from his apartment. Smith also allegedly used a BB gun that resembled a real gun.

Authorities said Smith used lies and manipulation to get his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend inside his apartment.

Police, who said they learned of Smith’s scheme Tuesday night, said the terrifying experience was all too real to his alleged victims.

“Screams could be heard in the apartment as the door opened and the 15-year-old and an 18-year-old … fled,” said Sgt. Jeremy McClure, a spokesman for the Sioux City police.

Moments before, at about 10:34 p.m., officers were led to the apartment by the younger teen’s brother, McClure said. Once police were near, Smith let out the young woman and the teen. The ex-girlfriend and her friend told cops Smith could be found in a bathroom with the weapon, McClure said.

Smith then stepped outside and was arrested, McClure said.

McClure said Smith’s former girlfriend from South Sioux City, Nebraska, and her teenage friend were found unharmed and had been forced to stay at Smith’s apartment against their will for between 30 minutes and an hour. And while Smith didn’t point the BB gun at them, he “displayed it and flicked the safety up and down,” McClure said. He added the gun “was made to look like a real gun.”

Smith’s ex-girlfriend declined to comment Friday over text message.

McClure said that once at the apartment, Smith’s alleged victims were shocked to see he was alive. He then locked them inside, McClure said.

Smith was booked into the Woodbury County Jail on Wednesday and was released the same day. His bond was $7,500, said Tony Wingert, chief deputy with the county’s sheriff’s office.

Smith could not be reached for comment Friday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney or if he had been arraigned yet.

Sioux City is in northwestern Iowa and about 95 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska.