News - Kane County

St. Charles police release more details about woman’s alleged kidnapping, carjacking

Victim rescued in Utica after traffic stops

Shawn G. Strahota was charged with kidnapping, carjacking, domestic battery with strangulation and theft by deception, all felonies.

ST. CHARLES – New details that were released in a St. Charles police report regarding an alleged aggravated kidnapping July 19 tell a harrowing tale of violence and terror.

The police report was released following a Freedom of Information Act request.

Shawn G. Strahota, 39, listed as living in St. Charles, Geneva and Yorkville in police reports, currently is being held in the Kane County Jail on $120,000 bond on 20 felonies in three complaints. Felony charges include kidnapping, carjacking, strangulation of the victim by covering her mouth and nose so that she could not breathe and that he battered her, records show.

A voicemail message left with Strahota’s public defender seeking comment was not returned.

Strahota was stopped in Utica shortly after 2 p.m. July 19 for going through a stop sign while driving the victim’s Jeep, according to a Utica police report. The woman in the Jeep told police Strahota had kidnapped her, according to the report.

‘A screaming woman’

The day began at the Geneva Motel Inn, 100 S. Tyler Road, in St. Charles. After 9:30 a.m. there was an anonymous report to police that Strahota allegedly had beaten the woman, according to the newly released St. Charles police report.

Police went into Strahota’s room to do a well-being check on the woman and found him sleeping alone in the motel bed, according to the report.

Police woke him up and Strahota said he did not have a permanent address, but had been with the victim for the past three days “as they are trying to start a new life together,” according to the report.

Strahota did not know where the victim was. Police called her friend’s phone without success, her mother had not heard from her and neither had her ex-husband, according to the report.

Police found her white Jeep Wrangler in the parking lot, according to the report, and they left the Geneva Motel Inn at 10:17 a.m.

Twelve minutes later, police were called to the Super 8 Motel, 1520 E. Main St., St. Charles, “for a screaming woman being forced into a white Jeep,” according to the report.

A witness told police she was good friends with both of them and that the victim had called to tell her Strahota had beaten her up; the friend invited her to come to the Super 8 and stay with her, according to the report.

The victim’s “entire face was swollen and she had a large gash on her forehead,” the witness told police, according to the report. The victim told her that “Shawn caused the injuries.”

The witness told police they were outside for a smoke and Strahota picked the victim up and on his shoulder and walked her to the white Jeep while she “was kicking her arms and legs and screaming at Shawn to let her go,” according to the report.

The witness tried to pull her friend away from Strahota, but he pushed her and put the victim in the vehicle. The witness again tried to aid her friend and pull her out of the Jeep, but Strahota “pushed her to the ground and fled in the Jeep,” according to the report.

‘A new life together’

While the friend was talking to police, Strahota’s phone called the friend via Facebook messenger on an open line where police could hear what he was saying, according to the report.

Strahota said he would kill himself, that he should not have gotten them drugs the night before and they should have stayed sober, according to the report.

Police heard the victim state that Strahota had beaten her, according to the report.

“Shawn started apologizing and said that they were supposed to start a new life together,” then the call ended, according to the report.

Police called the victim on her cellphone and she sounded distraught. Strahota agreed to bring her back to the hotel, then the call ended, but they did not return, according to the report.

Surveillance video from the Super 8 showed Strahota carrying the victim on his shoulder while she kicks, according to the report.

‘Blood all over her face’

St. Charles police put out notices to other police agencies to watch for the white Jeep. They filed forms to have Strahota’s cellphone tracked. Pings from cell towers showed the Jeep went to Plainfield, Ottawa and then Utica, according to the report.

Though the report states that St. Charles police were in contact with the North Utica police chief, Rodney Damron is actually the chief of Utica. It was Damron who pulled over the white Jeep for the traffic stop, according to both St. Charles and Utica police reports.

The woman in the car “had blood all over her face and she was screaming that she had been kidnapped,” the report stated that Damron told St. Charles police. The woman was taken to a local hospital and Damron said he would hold Strahota on traffic charges until they could pick him up, according to the report.

When St. Charles police arrived to talk to the victim at a hospital in Peru, they noted she had “numerous scratch marks, cuts and bumps,” according to the report.

The victim told police she had rented a room at the Geneva Motel Inn with Strahota and described him as her “on and off again boyfriend for about the last year,” according to the report. She was the same victim from a previous pending charge against him from April 6, records show. There also was an order of protection that he was to stay away from her and her apartment building, records show.

They both smoked crack and Strahota became paranoid and “she felt like she was trapped in the hotel room and that she wasn’t allowed to leave,” according to the report.

At some point, she told police Strahota had thrown a lighter at her head, making a cut in her forehead, and then poured vodka over her head, which made the cut burn, according to the report.

She began screaming because “she thought Strahota was going to kill her.” Then he fell asleep and she ran out of that hotel and went to the Super 8 Motel to be with a friend, according to the report.

The victim said they went outside for a smoke and “the next thing she remembered was seeing Strahota sprinting toward her,” according to the report. “Strahota then picked her up, threw her over his shoulder and began walking with her toward her Jeep that was parked in the lot. … She was kicking and screaming trying to get away and Strahota was yelling at her that she was coming with him and to shut up. … Strahota then forced her into the Jeep and drove off.”

While they were at the Geneva Motel Inn, the victim told police that Strahota would grab her head and slam her face into various objects in the room, according to the report.

She also told police that at one point Strahota threw her on the bed and sat on top of her and covered her mouth and nose so that she could not breathe, according to the report.

She told police once Strahota realized police were pulling him over in Utica, he slammed on the brakes and she bashed her face on the dashboard, then he forced her to take his place in the driver’s seat because he did not have a valid license, according to the report.

‘She was free to leave’

Strahota told police that the victim has two personalities when she drinks, “she snaps and does some stupid (expletive) and makes really bad decisions,” according to the report.

Strahota said her behavior gets worse when she is around her friend who was at the other motel, according to the report.

Strahota told police he approached his girlfriend and her friend at the Super 8 and told her she was coming with him, then lifted her onto his shoulder and walked to her car, according to the report.

“Strahota stated that she could have left at any time and that she was free to leave,” according to the report. “He thought he could take her somewhere near Starved Rock so they could relax, get something to eat and sober up. Strahota stated that every time they do this type of thing [she] ends up in rehab or something else.”

When police asked how she got her injuries, Strahota stated, “we were wasted and that drugs were involved, I don’t know what happened,” according to the report.

Police asked about the lighter being thrown and “Strahota started to chuckle and laugh. Strahota advised that he did throw a lighter at [her] and that it struck her directly in the forehead. Strahota stated he had no intention of hurting her and that it was a mistake,” according to the report.

Strahota denied that the lighter was lit or that he poured vodka on her, saying that she poured it on herself, according to the report.

Kidnapping is the most serious charge Strahota faces, a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison if convicted.

An earlier charge against Strahota is a domestic battery case from April involving the same victim as in the July 19 case, court records show.

Strahota also faces a theft by deception charge alleging he took more than $10,509 from a homeowner for a remodeling job, but never did the work, court records show.