Woman abducted on Philadelphia street found safe, suspect arrested
PHILADELPHIA — A woman seen on surveillance video being abducted off a Philadelphia street was found safe outside Baltimore on Wednesday, and the man who snatched her was arrested, police said.
Carlesha Freeland-Gaither was spotted in Jessup, Maryland, in a car with the man and was rescued soon after, police said, without going into details. The man was nabbed after he stepped out of the car, they said.
“We got a very dangerous predator off the street,” police Chief Charles Ramsey said.
Freeland-Gaither, who had some minor injuries, was generally doing OK, police said. She and the man didn’t know each other, they said.
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The man, Delven Barnes, was being held Wednesday night on an unrelated Virginia warrant alleging attempted capital murder, assault and malicious injury with acid, explosives or fire, police said. Barnes couldn’t be reached for comment while in custody.
Freeland-Gaither’s mother, Keisha Gaither, thanked police and the community for their support and said she had talked to her by phone but hadn’t seen her yet. Keisha Gaither said her daughter was distraught when they talked.
“She was very upset. She was crying. She just was asking for me, to tell me she loved me, she missed me, to come get her,” she said. “I’m going to get my daughter. I’m going to get my baby.”
Freeland-Gaither, 22, had been last seen on surveillance video being grabbed by a man and pulled toward a car Sunday night as she struggled to get away in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood.
Police and federal authorities had released a stream of images over the past two days from surveillance cameras in Maryland and from a Philadelphia supermarket hours before the abduction.
The video showed a man in a knit cap and dark coat walking down an aisle of a store and using a self-checkout station. A timestamp indicates the video was recorded eight hours before Freeland-Gaither disappeared.
A witness called 911 at about 9:40 p.m. Sunday and reported seeing a woman identified as Freeland-Gaither screaming for help as she was forced into a dark gray four-door vehicle.
Police said Freeland-Gaither’s glasses and cellphone were dropped on the street, near piles of broken auto glass.
The witness said Freeland-Gaither — described by her parents as easygoing until she’s threatened — broke the car’s rear side windows before the vehicle sped off.
Freeland-Gaither, a nursing assistant, graduated from high school in Maryland and lived with her grandfather in Philadelphia until a couple of months ago, when she moved in with her boyfriend.
Her grandmother Ana Mulero said she has worked with cancer patients and has been pursuing a career in nursing.
Freeland-Gaither’s parents circulated fliers in Germantown, and Facebook groups sprung up with prayers for her safe return.
© 2014 The Canadian Press