4 charged in alleged kidnap, rape of homeless 17-year-old

Casey Grove

Four men are charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Eagle River, where three of them allegedly held her against her will in an apartment for about two days in mid-March.

Anchorage police described the victim as a homeless 17-year-old girl. She needed somewhere to stay the night of March 16, a Saturday night, and an acquaintance and another man picked her up in downtown Anchorage in front of the Atwood Building on Seventh Avenue, according to a charging document. The men, 19-year-old Alex Metzger and 21-year-old Ryan Poole, drove with her to an apartment, where they met 19-year-old Jesse Contreras, police said in a written statement Wednesday.

The three raped the victim in the early morning hours of March 17, holding her down while the attacks occurred, and were joined by 20-year-old Joseph Stanford in sexually assaulting the girl again the next night, police said in a written statement Wednesday. Though they apparently did not restrain the girl or lock her in the apartment, Metzger, Poole and Contreras threatened the victim to keep her there, the charges say.

According to charging documents filed in court against the four men, here is the story the victim told police:

After arriving at the apartment, above a business on Artillery Road in Eagle River, the victim said she played a video game: Grand Theft Auto 4 on a Playstation 3. She smoked marijuana with the three men because, she told the detective, "she needed a place to stay and didn't want to get kicked out," the charges say. Someone brought out a bottle of Goldschlager and the men started doing shots of the 107-proof liqueur.

The girl said she did not want any, but Metzger, Poole and Contreras pressured her to drink. Poole and Contreras held her arms down while Metzger poured the Goldschlager into her cup. Metzger pushed her forehead back and said, "You're gonna drink this," she told a detective later. She said she drank the cup of booze, which was about three-quarters full. She then went to the bedroom and fell asleep on a bed.

Contreras jumped on the bed a while later, waking her up. Poole said something about it only being 1 a.m., and she told him she just wanted to sleep.

"We're going to have to wake you up if you don't get up," Contreras said, according to the girl's account in the charges.

Contreras and Poole started touching her, then took off all of her clothes. The girl said her muscles were tense, her eyes closed and that she curled into a ball. She told the detective she felt scared and homesick.

The girl had dropped out of school and had been homeless, sleeping at friends' homes, for at least two months, said Sgt. Ken McCoy, head of the Anchorage Police Department's Special Victims Unit.

"She was on the street and had no other place to go," McCoy said. "From there, things just spiraled out of control. It definitely wasn't what she planned on occurring."

The men made her perform oral sex, with Poole slapping her on the face when she resisted. She said Contreras, Poole and then Metzger took turns having sexual intercourse with her, according to the charges. She tried to knock Poole off of her by kicking him, but he was too strong, she told the detective.

When the men were finished, they went back to the living room and the victim said she started to cry. She put her clothes back on and went to sleep.

In an interview later, the detective asked why she didn't leave or call police. The girl said she wanted to leave, but she could not find her cellphone. She woke up in the night to use a bathroom, apparently outside the apartment's entrance but still inside the building, and Contreras told her she could use the bathroom but could not leave. The detective asked why she didn't run away, and she said she didn't know where to go.

"In her mind, she didn't feel like she could've gotten away from them," McCoy said.

The girl said she stayed in the bedroom sleeping and using a tablet device throughout the day of March 17. That night, all three men were back in the living room, now with Sanford. The victim said all four men pointed knives at her from a distance when she again refused to drink with them -- this time, Jagermeister and Red Bull -- and said they would kill her if she did not drink. After more threats, she then drank four of the so-called "Jager-bombs" and smoked more marijuana with the men.

A similar attack to the one the night before followed, with Sanford joining in, though it's unclear if he had sexual intercourse with the girl. Contreras later admitted the men helped each other hold down the victim, the charges say.

The girl found her cellphone stuck between a box spring and mattress about 3 a.m. the next morning, March 18, and texted a friend to come get her. She left behind her torn, black bra and her state-issued identification card. Two days later, after spending nights with two separate male friends, she called her mother and went to a hospital, where she underwent an examination and made her initial report to police.

The state crime lab is processing possible DNA evidence, McCoy said.

According to the charges, detectives served a search warrant at the apartment about a week later. They found her ID, and the black bra was pinned on a wall between the living room and bedroom. Contreras' wife described it to a detective as a "trophy" taken from a girl who stayed at the apartment.

Metzger admitted to the detective in a subsequent interview that he thought the girl probably did not want to have sex with him and the other men, according to the detective's statement in the charges. Metzger said Poole had been aggressive and forceful during the assaults, the charges say. Metzger said the victim probably took his threat with the knife seriously, at least partially because of his self-proclaimed affiliation with the Hells Angels, a motorcycle group widely recognized as an organization with criminal sects.

In his own interview with detectives, Contreras also made references to the sexual assaults, the charges say. He corroborated much of the girl's story about the rapes both nights and described Poole's actions as "very rough." Contreras admitted the men held the girl down while having sex with her and said she must have felt "scared" and "trapped," the charges say. He denied stopping the girl from leaving the apartment.

"Contreras said he remembered one of the three saying that because they had given (her) a place to sleep and let her drink and smoke their property, that they were all going to have sex with her," the charges say.

During the weekend of the alleged sexual assaults, Contreras told police, his 5-month-old infant had been in his care at the apartment. Contreras was wearing an ankle monitor at the time of the attack as a condition of his release from jail on unspecified previous charges, according to the charging documents.

Poole admitted buying the alcohol both nights but denied having any kind of sexual contact with the girl, according to the charges. He said the three others had group sex with her and that he did not see any rough behavior from any of them.

The detectives received arrest warrants based on the charging documents March 30, and all four men were jailed by the next day, police said.

Poole is charged with six counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of kidnapping and seven counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Contreras is charged with six counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of kidnapping and one count of third-degree assault.

Metzger is charged with seven counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of kidnapping and one count of third-degree assault.

Sanford is charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault and one count of first-degree attempted sexual assault.

A police spokeswoman said Wednesday that detectives think Poole, Contreras, Metzger or Sanford may have other victims from unreported crimes. The detectives ask that anyone with additional information call police at 786-8900 or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP.

There was no specific evidence any of the men carried out prior sexual assaults, but they were so brazen in the March assault, it made detectives wonder about the possibility of other victims, McCoy said.

"We don't see a lot of cases like this, where there's multiple assailants against one victim," he said. "The thing that kind of stands out is the total disregard they showed for her. They treated her like she was nothing and terrified her."

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.