A Texas rapper and former member of a hip-hop collective that once collaborated with George Floyd is facing charges for allegedly kidnapping a homeless woman and holding her captive for four years. Lee Carter, better known by the moniker “Viper,” was arrested on January 4 despite authorities rescuing the victim in April.
Although George Powell, Viper’s defense attorney, said the woman was his domestic partner, the victim was found in a derelict garage, pregnant, malnourished, and weighing only 70 pounds.
The woman, who said she was already pregnant when Viper kidnapped her, told the police she was panhandling several years ago in Houston when he offered to help her. Against her better judgment, the woman told police she got into Viper’s vehicle with him.
The woman told police she spent most of her time locked in the garage, but would occasionally be allowed inside the house to shower. According to the complaint, she sometimes attempted to escape during the moments she had in the house, but Viper would simply grab her and lock her back up in the garage.
The woman told the police she pleaded with Carter to let her go, but he often threatened her with violence.
According to NBC News, the woman used Viper’s laptop to “communicate with 911 dispatch that she was being held against her will” on the communication app TextNow. It has not been revealed how the woman gained access to the laptop.
Following this, the fire department arrived at the rapper’s home on April 7 and found the woman locked inside a single-car garage with a “makeshift toilet that did not flush, a mattress covered in fresh vomit,” and “a few packages of chips and Twinkies.”
Court records did not reveal the age of the 5-foot-2 woman, but prosecutors said she was discovered “malnourished with a pungent stench, crusty hair,” and “wearing a T-shirt and shorts that were filthy dirty.” Because the investigation is ongoing, authorities were unable to verify if the woman had the baby when she was found.
Though the woman was discovered in the garage last April, it is unknown why it took authorities nine months to arrest Viper on charges of felony aggravated kidnapping.
Speaking to NBC News, an official for the sheriff’s office said Viper has left the Harris County Jail after posting a $100,000 bond on Monday. In a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter), Viper maintained his innocence, and released an apparent single titled “I AM INNOCENT!!! I AM OUT OF JAIL!!! I DID NOT DO ANY OF THE ALLEGATIONS AND I WILL BE FULLY EXONERATED AND MY EVIDENCE WILL PROVE MY INNOCENCE!!!”
Viper’s attorney said he was unaware of “his client’s stage name” and had no insight into his music career, including that he is the owner of the record company Rhyme Time Records based out of the home where he allegedly held the woman captive.
Viper is known for his prolific discography, boasting of having released over 1,500 records in the past 20 years. But of them, the most well known is his 2008 album “You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack.” Due to his bizarre stage persona and brashly titled songs, Viper enjoyed some success as an internet meme. Among his more popular releases include “I did tha Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak,” and “The Chinese ain’t do Tiananmen Square, I did.”
The rapper’s official YouTube account was managed by a fan who has since announced he is suspending the continuation of the channel and donating all monetization proceeds to charity. A music video for a Viper single “You’ll Neva Find Out I Had Someone Locked Up In My Garage For 5 Years” has now been deleted.
In addition to his solo work, Viper was loosely involved with the American hip hop collective Screwed Up Click based in Houston, Texas. Briefly included among the other members was George Floyd, whose death while in police custody on May 25, 2020, led to widespread protests and riots.