Pawtucket pair charged with kidnapping, abusing woman

Rafael Freitas (right) and Joylinn Gelpi (Photos: Pawtucket Police Department)

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Pawtucket police have arrested two people after a woman said they held her against her will in a basement apartment for more than a month, subjecting her to disturbing mental and physical abuse.

Rafael Freitas and Joylinn Gelpi, both 27, were charged with a list of crimes including kidnapping and involuntary servitude after the homeless woman told police they had confined her in the basement of 1 Drolet Avenue.

Pawtucket Police said they found the woman at the Providence Train Station. Police have not said if she escaped the home or was set free by the suspects.

The woman said she met Gelpi at a mental health and addiction treatment center, according to police, and was invited to stay with the couple.

In a press release, police wrote: “The victim reported that she was then forced to stay in the basement against her will, deprived of water and the use of the bathroom. She was further subjected to being burned with a lighter, assaulted with a belt, and occasionally tied up to a chair or pole with an extension cord for extended periods of time as a form of punishment.”

Police said Gelpi and Freitas also used the victim’s EBT card and SSI funds for their own personal use. The alleged victim also had an autism spectrum disorder.

“It’s pretty sick, if you ask me,” said neighbor Matt King. “If I had known something, I probably would have either reported it or took action myself, if I could have. I can’t let people live in a basement, held captive and not do anything.”

Freitas and Gelpi were both charged with kidnapping, involuntary servitude, mayhem and conspiracy. In addition, Freitas is charged with 1st degree sexual assault.

The two were ordered to be held without bail by a judge on Wednesday. In arguing to hold Gelpi behind bars, a police inspector said she had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a child in Texas, along with abuse of a child, elderly or disabled person.

Pawtucket Police are asking anyone with information about this case or any similar incidents involving these two suspects to contact Pawtucket Police Detectives David Silva or Nathan Gallison at (401) 727-9100 ext. 760 or 724.