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Man charged with kidnapping two during Southern Oregon vacation

Cory James Worker
Victims barricaded themselves in Medford motel for fear of Illinois man

An Illinois man faces a string of felony charges in Southern Oregon after an alleged drug relapse during a vacation took a frightening turn for a woman and a pregnant teen.

Cory James Worker, 31, of Taylorville, Illinois, was arrested on kidnapping and robbery charges accusing him of taking cellphones belonging to his 26-year-old girlfriend and 15-year-old sister, and attempting to use the teen as collateral for a custody dispute that involved the man’s son in Illinois.

Medford police made contact with the woman and teen May 12 at the Royal Crest Motel on East Barnett Road, where police found that the women had barricaded the door with furniture in fear of Worker, according to documents filed by police in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The night before, the three were staying at the Wine Country Inn in Jacksonville. The two victims and Worker’s mother in Illinois told Medford police that Worker relapsed on methamphetamine during the vacation, and started making paranoid accusations.

In particular, Worker started fixating on a son in the custody of his mother, and made threats that he would hurt the teen or the woman if he did not get his son.

“He told them they would not make it out of Oregon alive if the cops arrived or if he was arrested,” an affidavit filed by police states.

The girlfriend tried to dial 911 from the bathroom of the Inn, but Worker ordered her to hang up. When dispatchers called the woman back, she pretended that everything was OK. Worker then confiscated the woman's phone.

The victims told police they heard Worker call his mother trying to arrange handoffs of his eight-months-pregnant sister for Worker’s son in the states of New Mexico and Texas. They also told police they heard Worker on the phone trying to buy a gun.

Worker checked everyone out of their hotel in Jacksonville Tuesday morning, then drove the victims “all over Medford” before booking a room at the Sovana Inn on Barnett Road.

While Worker was away allegedly buying duct tape, the woman and teen grabbed their belongings and fled to a motel one block away.

Medford police met the woman and teen, then lured Worker by staging a ruse and stopping him outside the Roadway Inn.

During the traffic stop, police say, they found a roll of clear Gorilla tape and the woman’s phone.

He allegedly told police that he got angry with the woman and teen, but denied making any threats, according to court documents filed by police. He acknowledged trying to meet his mother and his son in Texas, but denied trying to trade his sister for his son.

Worker made his initial court appearance Wednesday on four counts each of first- and second-degree kidnapping along with charges of coercion and third-degree robbery. At the hearing, Judge Laura Cromwell set bail at $300,000. She further ordered that if Worker is released from jail before trial that he possess no weapons or firearms, consume no alcohol or intoxicants, and not contact any of the alleged victims in the case.

The kidnapping, coercion and robbery charges were later dropped on grounds “that the defendant successfully tampered with essential witnesses in this case," according to a May 18 filing in the case by Deputy District Attorney Patrick Green. (Updated)

The following week, Worker pleaded guilty to a felony charge of witness tampering, admitting that he unlawfully induced his girlfriend to withhold testimony in the kidnapping case.

According to an affidavit filed by Medford police in the witness tampering case, Worker was recorded at the Jackson County Jail on May 16 and 17 telling the woman not to testify at a grand jury hearing, telling her, “You have to decide on me going to prison for the rest of my life or me being free,” and, “If you let me out I have the money for you.”

Worker was sentenced May 26 to 3 years probation on the single witness tampering conviction.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.

Update, 12/21/21: Updated the story first posted May 13 with information about the dismissed kidnapping, coercion and robbery charges, and that Worker later pleaded guilty to witness tampering stemming from the case.