Teen Who Killed Her Rapist in Custody After Her Escape

Pieper Lewis, who fled from a Des Moines women's center, didn't go far
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2022 7:29 AM CST
Updated Nov 9, 2022 1:15 PM CST
Teen Who Killed Her Rapist Slips Out of Custody
Pieper Lewis is seen during a sentencing hearing on Sept. 13 in Des Moines, Iowa.   (Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Des Moines Register via AP, File)
UPDATE Nov 9, 2022 1:15 PM CST

Pieper Lewis is back in custody. The 18-year-old Iowa sex trafficking victim who on Friday fled a Des Moines women's center where she was serving five years of probation for the killing of her alleged rapist was found in Des Moines and booked into Polk County Jail on Tuesday. She's now charged with escape, a misdemeanor that carries up to one year in prison and a $2,560 fine, per the Des Moines Register. However, a probation report filed at the time of her escape requests that her deferred judgment be revoked and her original sentence of 20 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and willful injury be imposed. A court hearing on the probation violation will take place at a later date, per CNN.

Nov 7, 2022 7:29 AM CST

An Iowa teen convicted for killing the man who raped her has escaped custody. Jerry Evans, executive director of the 5th Judicial District Dept. of Corrections, confirmed Pieper Lewis' Friday morning breakout from a Des Moines women's center, adding that authorities aren't sure where the 18-year-old could be headed, as she somehow removed her GPS monitor, per KCCI. Lewis, who was sentenced to five years of probation and a deferred judgment in September, was 15 years old when she killed 37-year-old Zachary Brooks in 2020, accusing Brooks of raping her several times.

Per the Des Moines Register, Lewis was a runaway from what she described as an abusive home and ended up living with a 28-year-old man who made her have sex with other men—including Brooks, whom she finally stabbed more than 30 times, per the AP. Prosecutors agreed that Lewis, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury, had been sex-trafficked, although the man she lived with and called her "boyfriend" hasn't been charged. Per a probation violation report cited by the Register, a door alarm went off shortly after 6:15am on Friday at the Fresh Start Women's Center, where Lewis was held, and a staff member saw her leaving the building.

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Sometime later that day, Lewis managed to cut off her tracker, the report notes. When Lewis was granted probation in September, Polk County District Judge David M. Porter told her, "This was the second chance you asked for. You don't get a third." The public responded to her case, crowdfunding more than $560,000 to help her cover the $150,000 restitution she'd been ordered to pay to the family of Brooks. A warrant has now been issued for Lewis' arrest. If she'd finished out her five years of probation, her record would've been expunged. Now, she faces up to 20 years in prison. (More escape stories.)

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