Woman abducted in Philadelphia found safe

This undated photo provided by the Philadelphia Police Department shows Carlesha Freeland-Gaither.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A woman seen on surveillance video putting up a fight while 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, with the man in a car with a broken-out back window and was rescued soon after, police said. The man was nabbed after he stepped out of the car, they said.

“We got a very dangerous predator off the street,” Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Freeland-Gaither had some injuries but was generally doing OK, police said. There was no indication she and the man, who used to live in Philadelphia, knew each other, authorities said.

The man, Delvin Barnes, was being held Wednesday night on an unrelated Virginia warrant alleging attempted capital murder, assault and malicious injury with acid, explosives or fire, and he would face federal charges in the Philadelphia abduction, authorities said. Barnes, 37, couldn’t be reached for comment while in custody.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents had received information from Richmond, Virginia, to be on the lookout for a vehicle that might have been involved in the abduction, said Tim Jones, resident agent in charge with the ATF in Lanham, Maryland.

ATF agents found the vehicle, which had its rear window kicked out, late Wednesday afternoon on a road in Jessup, he said. A witness to Freeland-Gaither’s abduction Sunday night had said she broke some of the car’s windows before the car sped off.

Law enforcers saw Barnes and Freeland-Gaither in the car and surrounded it, Jones said.

Barnes climbed from the back seat to the front seat, and that was when agents drove their cars around to block his vehicle in, Jones said. Agents then freed Freeland-Gaither, and she was taken to a hospital, Jones said.

Barnes was taken into custody without incident, Jones said.

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 — had broken the car’s rear side windows.

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.

___

Associated Press writers Sean Carlin and Ron Todt and Kasey Jones in Baltimore contributed to this report.

 

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