Calif. man charged with raping, holding ex-wife in attic

OROVILLE, California (CNN) -- A California man is charged with raping and holding his ex-wife against her will in his attic.

Police say officers arrived at the scene to conduct a welfare check but the suspect said he had not seen his ex.

Deputies say she was sealed off from the outside world for two weeks -- held captive in an attic sealed with drywall, tortured and raped and given a bucket for a bathroom. 

The woman's alleged captor is her ex-husband, Lawson Rankin.

A man who lives nearby said it's hard to believe, but he swears the woman wanted to be in the attic, and insists she could've left at any time.

"That was her choice, what she wanted to do. She was up there because she wanted to be up there, because she's married to the man and she loves him," the neighbor said.

Public records show the woman divorced Rankin in 2010 and took out a restraining order to prevent domestic violence by her ex, who is also a registered sex offender.

The suspect's friends insist the two were rekindling lost love, living together in the attic. They were hiding out, friends claim, because of that restraining order keeping them from being seen together.

The woman's family members asked the sheriff's department to check on her, and deputies found the woman's ex-husband covered in drywall mud. They also found a spot in the kitchen, recently drawled over and still wet. 

Deputies broke the seal and found the woman hurt, but alive. 

It was the end of two long weeks that investigators say had nothing to do with love.