WESTON, Fla. – The family of the suspect in custody for the abduction, assault and rape of a Cleveland Clinic healthcare worker released a statement Sunday.
Broward Sheriff’s deputies identified Joel Cossio, 31, of Hialeah Gardens, as the man who physically assaulted and kidnapped a woman on her way into work Saturday morning to begin her shift at the Weston campus.
Cossio was captured on Sunday in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, about two hours west from where the abduction took place.
A statement was released Sunday on behalf of the family, which read:
“The family’s thoughts and prayers are currently with the victim, the victim’s family, and with Joel. Their son suffers from mental illness and left home (that) morning after an argument regarding his medication. They would like to thank the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Det. Rausch, and the law enforcement officers who acted on the family’s information to apprehend Joel without incident. The family has no other comment at this time.”
The carjacking happened at the Weston hospital campus parking lot at 2950 Cleveland Clinic Boulevard around 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
Investigators said the victim had just arrived to work at the Cleveland Clinic and that’s when the suspect, now identified as Cossio, raced after her, tackled her to the ground and forced her back into her car.
“He then proceeded to drive and sexually batter her at a location that we are not going to disclose at this time,” Broward Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Don Prichard said.
After the sexual assault, and driving the victim’s car, he dropped the woman off in the parking lot of the Target store at Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise. It’s there where deputies said she ran inside and called 911. By then, the man had taken off.
“The suspect then took the victim’s vehicle and was last seen westbound on Alligator Alley,” Prichard said.
On the interstate, a Sunpass toll captured clear images of Cossio’s face.
Deputies said Cossio was taken into custody Sunday morning without further incident. He remains in Charlotte County as authorities await a judge’s order to return him to Broward County, where he faces multiple charges for the assault, kidnap, and car theft.
BSO said the victim’s vehicle was also recovered at the location.
Cleveland Clinic released the following statement to Local 10 News:
“We are deeply troubled and saddened by the incident involving an employee in a parking lot on our Weston Hospital campus, which occurred this morning. Our thoughts are with our employee and their family. We are committed to the safety and security of all patients, visitors and employees. We are working closely with local law enforcement on their investigation. Out of respect for our employee, we will not be releasing additional information at this time.”