Man accused of keeping woman he met on Facebook prisoner for 10 days

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What began as a "nice" conversation on Facebook quickly turned into a 10-day nightmare for a North Dakota woman at the hands of a St. Paul man who held her captive and tried to strangle her.

That's what Ramsey County prosecutors say Ryan Marcelle Abernatha's alleged crimes include, according to the felony criminal complaint against him.

The victim, identified in court documents only as "A.M.O.", is said to have endured more than a week of verbal and physical abuse, during which time the defendant refused to let her leave his apartment, she told investigators.

The charges say A.M.O. met the 40-year-old Abernatha online (adding that he seemed "nice" from his messages) and subsequently traveled by bus to meet him in St. Paul. Abernatha later told authorities that he and A.M.O. "planned to have a sexual relationship once she arrived."

But according to prosecutors, things took a dark turn instead.

A.M.O. said that Abernatha quickly started "ordering her around," demanded that she not say anything if they left the apartment, and wouldn't let her eat.

At one point after a verbal exchange, the defendant "became extremely violent," strangled A.M.O. and pushed her against a wall, forcing her to vomit and see "stars," according to her statements.

She also reported that he blocked his door with a two-by-four and "other objects" to prevent her from leaving, though she did manage a couple of unsuccessful escape attempts.

The abuse carried on "every day," the charges say, and only ended when A.M.O. was finally able to send a Facebook message to a friend, who contacted police. 

Abernatha, who has "no known Qualified Domestic Violence Related Offense convictions," is charged with making terroristic threats and domestic assault by strangulation.

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