A word of warning following blind-date turned assault

Douglas County Sheriff Aaron Hanson wants anyone meeting a stranger to remember his office at 156th and West Maple is the best place to rendezvous.
An Omaha man is warning others about meeting up with strangers online.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 11:20 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The start of what he thought was a blind date left Chris Peters with a severely-injured eye and other serious injuries.

“I could’ve been killed,” Peters said.

Chris exchanged messages with a 21-year-old woman who posted on a dating app and drove to a neighborhood where she claimed to be babysitting at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

“It was a nice neighborhood, so I thought it would be a little more protective,” Peters said.

But blood near where Chris parked shows that instead of a lady, a not-very-nice young man showed up.

“He walked up to my car, got into my car,” Peters said. “We started talking, and then all of a sudden it was lights out for me.”

The sheriff reports Chris was punched, dragged out of his Dodge Durango, and hit with an iron bar.

“I almost didn’t recognize him,” said Janet Dammann, Chris’s mother. “When we got up to his room, I had to look twice to make sure he was even my son.”

The accused attacker pulled the severely-beaten 36-year-old back into his Durango and drove off. Then he allegedly dumped Chris in a parking lot six miles away. The stolen Durango was later stopped by police, and a 17-year-old suspect was arrested.

It’s believed Chris called 911 -- but he doesn’t remember.

“I don’t remember anything after the first punch, and that’s it,” Peters said. “That’s all I remember until I woke up here.”

Douglas County Sheriff Aaron Hanson wants anyone meeting a stranger to remember his office at 156th and West Maple is the best place to rendezvous.

“Cameras that are running 24/7 and those cameras got all the way up and down the building,” Hanson said. “At night this is a very well-lit area.”

Besides a sign in the parking lot, more will be added to invite closer meetings.

“If people are doing exchanges near their car, we also want to see the people so we have a profile of who they are and if they come up here, we have a better image of who they are,” said Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Cindy Dmyterko.

Anyone meeting a stranger outside the sheriff’s office who feels cold or uncomfortable can come inside to a foyer. It’s open 24 hours a day. Pick up the phone and dial 911 -- obviously, help is close by.

If not, Chris’s mom says to pick a public place with people around.

“Anyone who wants to go on a date with a stranger, this could happen to you,” Dammann said.

Though pleased with his mom’s support after getting his teeth knocked out in the attack, Chris Peters says it’s hard to give her a smile.

“Not sure how many I lost, but they say it’s six,” Peters said.

The alleged attacker is 17 years old, so the legal system at this point considers him a juvenile, and his name has not been released. He faces first-degree assault and kidnapping charges. The sheriff tells 6 News the suspect does have a criminal history involving violence dating back to age 12.

The Saturday attack in a neighborhood near 192nd and West Maple was caught on a Ring camera, and that video is in evidence. The sheriff says the teen may be related to the woman on the dating app.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help with Chris’s medical bills.