After requesting Uber ride, couple says driver kidnapped, raped girlfriend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City man is charged in Johnson County with rape, aggravated kidnapping and theft, accused of being the driver who kidnapped and raped a woman and stole a couple's cell phones and credit cards in August.

Dereje Gebremariam, 42, made his first appearance in Johnson County court Thursday afternoon.

According to the probable cause statement for the cell phone theft in Jackson County, a man told police that he was in the Power & Light District with his girlfriend on August 7th and requested an Uber ride to get back to their hotel room at the Sheraton, 6100 College Blvd.


Gebremariam in Johnson County court on Thursday, Sept. 8.

The boyfriend says the driver of a dark blue or black Chevy Traverse came to get them.  The boyfriend described the driver as a Middle Eastern black male with large ears.

Uber has denied he was a driver for them, and responded to FOX 4's Melissa Stern in an email:

"...We don't have anyone on the Uber platform with this name and can confirm he is not an Uber driver.  We appreciate all of  the Overland Police Department's efforts to help keep the community safe and will support their investigation in every way possible," wrote Kayla Whaling, Uber Communications.

The boyfriend said during the drive back to the hotel, he needed to use the restroom so the driver pulled over in the area of I-435 and State Line Road. However, once the boyfriend got out of the car, the driver drove away with his girlfriend, and also with his cell phone and credit card.

Because Johnson County, Kan., does not release probable cause statements detailing the accusations against the suspect, FOX 4 does not yet have the series of events that allegedly occurred after the driver left the boyfriend and allegedly sexually assaulted the woman.

The details come from the probable cause statement from Jackson County, where Gebremariam is charged with 'receiving stolen property', which allegedly occurred on August 10, 2016.

The boyfriend discovered his missing credit card had been used two times in Kansas City since he reported it missing; once at a gas station and another time at a grocery store. Surveillance pictures from the grocery store showed a man resembling Gebremariam using the boyfriend's Master Card.

When police obtained a search warrant for Gebremariam's apartment, they say they found the couple's iPhone 6s and iPhone 5c. Gebremariam was at the apartment while police conducted their search and was then arrested. He told police he wanted his attorney present for everything.

Gebremariam is being held on $500,000 bond.

Gebremariam, from Ethiopia, was found guilty in 2014 of a identity theft that occurred in December 2012.

FOX 4's Melissa Stern is following this story and will put together her report for FOX 4 News at 5 & 6 p.m., and provide updates as available on the fox4kc app and website.

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