Man charged for imprisoning, assaulting woman

Charges were filed Monday in Island County Superior Court against a Bellingham man for tying, assaulting and threatening to kill a woman at his family cabin in Freeland last week.

Matthew M. Friar was charged on three separate counts; unlawful imprisonment, harassment with threats to kill his victim and assault in the fourth-degree domestic violence. He is in jail on $500,000 bail.

Friar is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 24.

The maximum penalty for the first two counts is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count. On the third count of fourth-degree domestic violence, he could face one year in jail or a $5,000 fine.

The investigation is ongoing at this point.

“We could amend the charges up if more facts come out in the investigation,” said Steven L. Selby, deputy prosecuting attorney for Island County.

The charges stem from incidents that occurred Feb. 7 and 8. Friar, 26, allegedly held an acquaintance against her will in a cabin at 1480 Shoreview Drive, across from Freeland Park.

She escaped on her own Wednesday morning and ran to Freeland Park and borrowed a cell phone from a park visitor. After her escape she told authorities that Friar was armed with a .22-caliber Ruger and a handgun, and that she had been assaulted and sexually assaulted the night before by Friar. The woman also reported that he had threatened to kill her 3-year-old son, who was staying with relatives in Bellingham. Friar was wanted on a felony warrant from Whatcom County.

Prior to her escape, the victim had tried to contact local authorities by dialing 911 and leaving the telephone line open.

An Island County deputy responded to the address after her first call but did not talk to the victim. She made a second call Wednesday at 1:50 a.m., but there was no record of the deputy response.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation into the deputy’s alleged failure to follow police procedures by responding in person to the second 911 hang-up call. The deputy’s name has not been released, pending the investigation.

The victim is currently hiding in a safe house.

In the affidavit of probable cause, the victim said she told Friar on Feb. 7 that she wanted to go home, but he ignored her requests.

That night, after drinking wine with Friar, the victim went to bed. She said she overheard him talking on a cell phone, then he accused her of sleeping with someone else and dragged her out of bed by the hair into the main room of the cabin.

The victim said she was tied with a sheet to a drop-down stairway to the attic. She said Friar started rambling about his prison experiences and said he did not want to go back. When she tried to stand up, he took a second sheet and used it to tie her neck to the stairs. She said that while she was tied he threw household objects at her including a cup, an orange and a steak knife.

The victim said Friar periodically tied and untied her during the night. She reported that she left the phone off the hook after calling 911 twice so dispatchers could hear her exchanges with Friar.

The deputy responded to the first call.

According to the woman, when the deputy’s headlights appeared in the driveway, Friar grabbed her and put her in a closet. The victim stated she knew it was a deputy because the knock on the door was accompanied by a voice stating, “Sheriff’s office.”

The dispatch center confirms a second 911 call was made on Feb. 8 at 1:50 a.m. There is no recorded deputy response.

The victim reported to the Island County detectives that she had a dating relationship with Friar and had known him since grade school, but had not seen him for some time, until a month ago. She learned that he had a felony warrant for his arrest, but she also believed he needed a friend so she agreed to accompany him to Freeland. They had been at the cabin for a week and a half.

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