Crime & Courts

Charlotte woman charged with extortion after lying about rape, kidnapping to father

After trying to convince her father she had been raped, kidnapped and beaten, a 27-year-old Charlotte woman was charged Tuesday with extortion, resisting a public officer and misdemeanor child abuse.

David Duke, the father of the woman who was charged, Lauren Duke, said the ploy began Tuesday with a friend request on Facebook. Though he didn’t recognize the name, he accepted.

“Five to ten minutes later, I get a video call on Facebook Messenger,” he said. “It was my daughter. She was screaming, crying, asking for help, totally going nuts like she was being physically hurt.”

Duke said the call never showed her face, but he instantly recognized his daughter’s voice. Then the call suddenly dropped. “I sat there wondering what’s going on, what do I do,” he said in an interview with the Observer Thursday.

The subsequent messages issued an ultimatum: “You want your daughter back? Lets agree on a payment.”

“I’ve had her taken, beaten, raped and tigehed up with her kids to watch. U tell a soul ill kill your family.” The next message then demanded $3,200, claiming that after 11 p.m., Lauren Duke would be dead.

David Duke said he went to the Matthews Police Department, where they told him it was a Facebook hoax.

“I told them it’s no hoax, I know my daughter’s voice,” he said.

After being redirected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Duke said he told officers to use the ankle bracelet she was wearing from a previous offense to locate her.

Duke said officers could see his daughter walking out of a house on 16th Street, then asked her if she had been kidnapped.

“She said no,” Duke said. “She looked fine.”

Lauren Duke’s two children, along with two other children who were in her care, were found locked in a car.

David Duke said they were dehydrated, and he immediately took them to the store for food and water. The next morning, he got a message from the police department saying she had confessed and was in jail.