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Sheriff: Man arrested in Orlando after multi-county chase tortured, held woman captive

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A cross-county chase involving multiple law enforcement agencies ended with a Tampa man under arrest.

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The suspect, Walter Medina, was wanted out of Hillsborough County for allegedly inflicting months of torture and abuse on a woman he held captive.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol was advised of an active pursuit of the suspect traveling east on Interstate 4 heading from Polk County into Osceola County.

Investigators said the suspect, driving a gold Town and Country Ford van, attempted to get away from law enforcement by driving at high speed and weaving in and out of traffic recklessly, endangering other motorists.

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FHP troopers, deputies with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and officers with the Lakeland Police Department continued to pursue the suspect who they say began driving on left shoulder at more than 100 miles per hour.

Law enforcement attempted several precision immobilization techniques (PIT) maneuvers but were unable to stop the suspect’s van.

At one point, investigators said the suspect hit another vehicle and drove off the exit ramp at John Young Parkway and then, after running a red light, crashed into a raised median.

After the crash, troopers said the suspect refused to comply with commands, so FHP K-9 Rico was deployed, who apprehended the fleeing suspect.

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Medina popped up on law enforcement’s radar on Monday after Hillsborough County deputies responded to a gas station in Seffner after a caller reported an injured female had just escaped from a van and needed help.

According to deputies, the victim, who had been panhandling in the area since 2024, met the suspect, Walter Medina during that time. Investigators said Medina initially provided the victim with food and narcotics before his actions turned violent and “subjected her to months of relentless physical abuse and captivity.”

Deputies said that Medina repeatedly assaulted the victim using a wooden baseball bat and a flathead screwdriver, inflicting severe injuries including broken ribs, deep puncture wounds, and extensive bruising.

Medina allegedly threatened to kill the victim if she fled or sought help.

The victim had the chance to escape when Medina briefly left her unattended at Walgreens, deputies said.

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“I can’t imagine the torture this victim endured for months, but I can imagine the relief she felt when our deputies arrived,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “I have to commend the bravery of the victim for escaping her captor and seeking help. Our thoughts are with her as she recovers from this traumatic ordeal.”

“This suspect’s reign of violent terror is now over,” Chronister added.

Walter Medina was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center after his arrest. When he is released from the hospital, Medina will be taken to the Orange County Jail to be booked on multiple charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping.

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