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Couple was kidnapped, tortured and forced to drink gas, charges say

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SALT LAKE CITY — Two people who police say kidnapped and tortured a homeless couple by pouring gasoline on them and forcing them to drink the gas, now face numerous felony charges.

Tymel Devonne Hicks, 27, of Salt Lake City, and Tausaafia Kayla Fitisemanu, 25, of South Salt Lake, were charged Friday in 3rd District Court with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies; aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony; and aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury, a third-degree felony.

On March 10, South Salt Lake police were called to the area of 3850 South and 500 West after a 29-year-old woman ran to a resident’s door, and banged on it while saying “people were trying to kill her,” according to charging documents.

The woman’s face was “severely bruised” and she had a “strong odor of gasoline” coming from her, police say.

The woman told officers that she and a 33-year-old man were beaten by Hicks and Fitisemanu inside a nearby apartment and that she had escaped, but her friend was still inside. Police surrounded the apartment, where they again smelled “a strong odor of gasoline,” according to the charges.

Hicks, Fitisemanu and two children were removed from the apartment.

Investigators learned the incident began when Hicks accused the man and woman, described in a police affidavit as “two homeless friends,” of stealing his gun.

Hicks then retrieved another weapon, a shotgun, and used it to beat both the man and woman, the charges state.

“Hicks hit (the woman) several times on the face, head and sides with the shotgun,” according to charging documents.

Fitisemanu also kicked, strangled and held a knife to the woman, according to the charges. She would also pinch the two children “to make them cry to drown out the sound of (the woman’s) scream,” the charges state. The man told police that Hicks also kicked him in the head.

Three other men then arrived at the apartment, one of them armed with a sword, and helped continue assaulting the couple, according to police.

The woman was then forced to undress, get in a bathtub with the other man, and gasoline was poured on them, the charges state. Both were also allegedly ordered to drink the gasoline. The man told police both he and the woman had their hands bound with duct tape before the gas was poured on them.

The man said he “was only able to drink a couple of swallows (of gas) before he spit it up,” the charges state.

The woman, who said she lost consciousness multiple times, was eventually allowed to leave. But Hicks threatened as she walked out that his gun “had other bodies on it,” the charges state.

Police later found many of the items mentioned by the couple inside the apartment.

Prosecutors have requested that Hicks and Fitisemanu be held in lieu of $500,000 bond.