Fla. Man Accused of Brutal Attack on Pregnant Woman He Believed Was Infected with Coronavirus

A pregnant Florida woman is recovering from a vicious attack Monday that police say was triggered by coronavirus fears.

According to an arrest report obtained by PEOPLE, officers from the Cape Coral Police Department were summoned to an apartment complex, and followed the screams for help from a woman allegedly being pummeled by Joseph Newell, 24.

The report claims Newell thought the woman had the coronavirus.

As officers reached a breezeway in the apartment complex, they allegedly spotted Newell “straddling” the victim, with his hands wrapped around her neck.

The woman is six months pregnant, according to the report.

Police instructed Newell to stop, the report indicates, but he allegedly refused, and instead, continued beating the woman.

Officers stepped in, applying a “pain compliance” technique to Newell’s neck in order to get him to cooperate with their orders.

As they placed him in handcuffs, Newell allegedly started slamming his head into the concrete.

It is unclear if Newell and the victim know each other.

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The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment but not before allegedly telling investigators Newell attacked her because he believed she had contracted the coronavirus.

The report indicates Newell was intoxicated at the time of the attack, and the victim told police he was aware she was pregnant.

After his arrest, Newell allegedly made several reference to COVID-19 while in the presence of police.

Newell faces a single charge of aggravated battery, to which he’s yet to plead.

As of Wednesday, he was still in custody on $15,000 bond.

It was unknown at press time if he had retained a lawyer who could comment on the allegations.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.


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