UPDATED 11/9 2:50 p.m. ET: After she escaped the residential corrections facility she was being held at, teen sex trafficking victim Pieper Lewis is back in custody.
Per CNN, the 18-year-old has been arrested less than a week after she walked out of the Des Moines women’s center, where she was under custody as part of her deferred judgment in the killing of her alleged rapist Zachary Brooks. She was found by authorities on Tuesday, Nov. 8 in Des Moines and taken back into custody. She is expected to return to court for probation violation.
As detailed in a report on her escape from the Fresh Start Women’s Center, an alarm alerted staff that an exit to the facility had been opened at 6:19 a.m. and she was spotted leaving by a residential officer.
See original story below.
Iowa’s Fifth Judicial District Department of Corrections announced that she escaped the center on Friday. As the district’s executive director, Jerry Evans, revealed, “[Lewis] walked away from the Fresh Start Women’s Center on Friday at 6:19 a.m. after cutting off her electronic monitoring tracking device.” Her current whereabouts remain unknown, but officials have filed a probation violation report. “A warrant for her arrest was subsequently issued that remains outstanding,” added Evans.
When she was just 15 years old, Lewis killed a man she alleged raped her multiple times. Earlier this year, she was ordered to pay $150,000 to the family of 37-year-old Zachary Brooks, whom she admitted to killing in June 2020. Prosecutors said that she stabbed Brooks, a married father of two, over 30 times in a Des Moines apartment. Lewis pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury in connection with the killing, although she was initially charged with first-degree murder. She was also given five years supervised probation, 200 hours of community service, and an additional fine of $4,000 in civil penalties.
Authorities said Lewis was a runaway who was sleeping in the halls of an apartment building, and was later taken in by a 28-year-old man who trafficked her. A GoFundMe campaign was launched after she was ordered to pay the fine, and it raised over $560,000 to help cover the court-mandated bill.
In the weeks leading up to the killing of Brooks, Lewis said that he raped her multiple times after she was forced at knifepoint to go to his apartment. “My spirit has been burned, but still glows through the flames,” said Lewis in a statement prior to her sentencing. “Hear me roar, see me glow, and watch me grow. I am a survivor.”