The man accused of sneaking into a woman's vehicle after she stopped at a gas station, forced her to drive away and then assaulted her has been arraigned in court.

Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel said the 26-year-old woman, from the St. Charles area, stopped at the Marathon gas station on M-52 in St. Charles on Thursday, Dec. 13.

When she went in to the store to pay, investigators said Jason Richard Cox snuck into the back seat, and laid down on the floor.

When she returned to her vehicle and prepared to drive to work, the suspect produced a weapon, forced her to drive west of St. Charles about five miles where he assaulted her, according to officials.

The victim said she was able to get away by jumping out of her vehicle while it was moving. She then made her way to a home where the homeowners called 911 about 6:49 a.m.

"She was driving down the road and she actually jumped out of her vehicle while it was moving at a high rate of speed. That was the only way she thought she could escape," Federspiel said.

Officials said the suspect may have also tried to hit her with the vehicle as she escaped.

The suspect drove away, but was caught about two hours later at an apartment complex where his girlfriend lives.

On Friday, Dec. 14, Cox was arraigned on first-degree criminal sexual conduct, carjacking, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, assault with intent to murder and assault with a dangerous weapon.

"Pretty evil case all the way around," Federspiel said.

Federspiel said Cox is a registered sex offender.

Federspiel also said Cox may have driven to the gas station and was casing the area, waiting for a victim.

Officials said the victim and suspect did not know each other.

The victim is recovering at a Saginaw hospital.

A not guilty plea was entered on Cox's behalf. He was denied bond and is being held in the Saginaw County Jail.

"You're surprised that it's in the community, let's put it that way. But I never thought it would happen here," said Carl Healy, resident.

Healy said he feels awful about what happened, but he takes comfort in knowing the suspect is behind bars.

"Just glad they caught him. Hopefully she's well," Healy said.

Federspiel said Cox served prison time for a crime similar to this one. That is why Federspiel is trying to make sure the suspect stays locked up for good this time.

"This is in my opinion, should be a life sentence when you do that. So we'll see. We'll get to the bottom of it and we'll bring as many charges that we logically and reasonably can to serve justice for our victim," Federspiel said.

In 1996, Cox was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. In 2000, he was convicted of five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

If you have any information, call the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office at 989-790-5456.

"I just saw a whole bunch of police and I was like what the hell is going on," said Dmitry Valerierich, Saginaw County resident.

He said he knows the suspect and saw police take him into custody.

"He was drunk and they got him and arrested him. And he was trying to get away I think because they were trying to block him," Valerievich said.

Valerievich said he has had friendly interactions with the suspect most of the time with a few exceptions.

"He would bang on our door for whatever reason. I don't know why. Maybe he wanted alcohol or drugs or something. I don't know," he said.

Back at the gas station, 28-year-old Dana Simpson said it could have been her.

"I come to this gas station every morning," she said.

Simpson said she didn't lock her car either until now.

"It's terrifying. Absolutely terrifying," she said.

Simpson said her heart goes out to the victim.

"She did what she could to get away. Unfortunately, she's in the hospital but hopefully she gets taken care of and she can get over this quickly," Simpson said.

As for Valerievich, he wants to see the suspect's punishment fit the crime.

"If he did what he did I think he deserves to be in prison," he said.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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