OROVILLE, CA (CNN/KOVR) -- A California man is charged with raping and holding his ex-wife against her will in his attic. Police say officers arrived at the scene to conduct a welfare check but the suspect said he had not seen his ex.
Deputies say she was sealed off from the outside world for two weeks, held captive in an attic sealed with drywall, tortured and raped, and given a bucket for a bathroom. Her alleged captor is her ex-husband Lawson Rankin.
One man, initially reluctant to talk, lives in a trailer in the back. It's hard to believe, but he swears the woman wanted to be in the attic and insists she could've left at any time. Russell Blair says, "That was her choice what she wanted to do she was up there because she wanted to be up there. Because she's married to the man and she loves him."
It was a shocking answer. In fact, public records show she divorced Rankin in 2010 and took out a restraining order to prevent domestic violence by her ex who's also a registered sex offender.
But Rankin's friends insist the two were rekindling lost love living together in the attic. They were hiding out, friends claim, because of that restraining order keeping them from being seen together. Blair says, "Wherever it took so they could be together, they didn't care, they wanted their love."
But the woman's family members clearly weren't so sure. They asked the sheriff's department to check on her.
Deputies say they found the ex-husband covered in drywall mud and a spot in the kitchen recently drawled over, still wet. They broke the seal and found her hurt, but alive. The end of two long weeks that investigators say had nothing to do with love.