Suspect in kidnapping, sexual assault of hospital worker arrested in Charlotte County

Author: The Associated Press
Published: Updated:
Joel Cossio (Credit: CCSO booking photo)

Authorities said on Sunday that they arrested an attacker who kidnapped and sexually assault a Florida hospital employee.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office says Joel Cossio, 31, was arrested in Charlotte County, about 150 miles from the Cleveland Clinic in Weston where the attack occurred. Cossio was arrested at a Wawa gas station in Port Charlotte.

Detectives said the woman was walking into the hospital Saturday morning when a man tackled her. He forced her back into her SUV and drove away. He sexually assaulted her then dropped her off at the Sawgrass Mills Mall, about 8 miles away, authorities said.

suv stolen
This is the SUV that BSO said the man stole.

“Any employee at a hospital is there to save lives, and when one of them is attacked and beaten it is just a horrific thought,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Don Prichard.

The attacker fled in the victim’s white Ford Explorer. It was seen driving west on Alligator Alley. BSO released photos that they were able to obtain from SunPass that showed the suspect driving the stolen vehicle westbound on Alligator Alley.

Officials say Cossio is being held in Charlotte County pending a judge’s order allowing his transfer to Broward. It could not be determined if he has an attorney.

Cossio is facing a charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle in Charlotte County. The white SUV was found in a Wendy’s parking lot in Punta Gorda, according to the sheriff’s office.

Charges he’ll face in Broward upon his return include kidnapping and sexual assault.

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