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Woman held captive in wooden box for 4 months by boyfriend, police say

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Sedalia, MO — A 47-year-old man held his girlfriend captive inside a wooden box for the past four months, the Sedalia Police Department said Friday morning.

Authorities are searching central Missouri for James Barton Horn Jr. after the “hysterical” woman fled their residence Thursday evening. The woman is doing OK despite her ordeal, said Sgt. Joshua Howell.

Horn is considered dangerous and anyone should call authorities immediately if they encounter him, Howell said.

“I would not let him know that you know what he has done or even noticed him. Just call 911,” Howell said.

Court records show Horn has a history of torturing and holding women captive that are breaking up with him. A federal judge said Horn could commit another violent sexual act, but there was no convincing evidence to order Horn to a mental facility after his release from a federal prison.

Authorities in Missouri say Horn did commit another violent sexual act as federal prosecutors had feared nearly four years ago.

A Missouri woman called 911 from a neighbor’s home just after 6 p.m. Thursday to say she had just managed to escape from the home in the 800 block of E. 15th Street.

“She was frantic and said she had just escaped her boyfriend’s house where he had been periodically locking her in a wooden box,” Howell said.

Authorities said after the couple had a bad falling out that Horn attacked the woman and forced her into a wooden box that was about four feet long and deep. She was repeatedly raped and routinely locked in the box, but was given food and water, authorities said.

As officers began to search for Horn, they also obtained a search warrant for the residence.

“Upon further inspection of the box, it did appear to be constructed for the purpose of concealing a person,” according to the news release. “The wooden box itself along with other evidence was collected from the scene.”

Police have not released a picture of Horn. He is described as a white man with dark hair. He is 5’11” tall and weighs 175 pounds.

The woman said she had been held captive since January after their consensual relationship turned sinister, and that he controlled her interactions with family members.

“They were in a consensual romantic relationship up until this point about four months ago. Things became bad,” Howell said. “There was an assault and he began holding her hostage from that point on.”

Horn’s pickup was found on a country road about seven miles from Sedalia.

The road was near U.S. 65 and authorities aren’t sure how Horn is traveling now.

A man who knows Horn and lives near where the vehicle was found angrily said Friday afternoon that he doesn’t believe the accusations.

Horn is listed on the national sex offender list for an offense that occurred in the Memphis area, and KCTV5 obtained a mugshot from that website. He was convicted for a 1992 sex offense that involved a 22-year-old woman.

Court records show that Horn has several times been accused of torturing and holding women captive, spent years in prison and a judge said Horn could commit another violent sex act before releasing him.

Residents who live near Horn were stunned by the accusations. They said that he kept too himself and kept the curtains drawn. One neighbor did say she had seen the woman sitting in a chair recently as Horn worked outside on his shed.

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