A suspect is in custody and the Philadelphia woman whose abduction Sunday night was caught on surveillance video is safe. Carlesha Freeland-Gaither was rescued Wednesday night after being seen in Jessup, Maryland, just outside Baltimore. She was with a man in a car with a broken back window. Delvin Barnes, 37, has been taken into custody. According to Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey, Freeland-Gaither is in good shape, although she does have some injuries and was taken to a hospital.
A witness to the abduction called 911 and reported seeing Freeland-Gaither forced into a car, screaming for help. She was able to break out some of the windows before it sped away. The car, with the rear window kicked out, was spotted late Wednesday afternoon in Jessup by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents who had received a tip that it night be in the vicinity. Authorities began to track the gray Ford Taurus by way of a GPS device that had been placed in the vehicle by the car dealership where it was purchased, apparently because Barnes had poor credit.
ATF agents saw the woman and Barnes in the back seat of the car, in the parking lot of a shopping center. and surrounded it when Barnes crawled into the front and tried to drive away, but his way was blocked by the officers’ cars. Freeland-Gaither was rescued and Barnes taken into custody when he stepped out of the car. Agent Tim Jones said Barnes was more surprised than anything.
As well as being in custody for Sunday night’s abduction of the Philadelphia woman, Barnes was being held on an unrelated warrant from Virginia for alleged capital murder and malicious injury and assault with acid, fire or explosives.He was arrested in Philadelphia in 2005 for charges that included burglary, rape, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and making terroristic threats. Police reports show that Barnes sexually assaulted and beat his estranged wife, holding her captive in her home overnight. According to authorities he would face federal charges for the kidnapping. Philadelphia commissioner Ramsey called Barnes “a vicious predator” and “a thug,” saying that a dangerous predator has been taken off the street.
Still images of a man using Freeland-Gaither’s bank card in the town of Aberdeen, Md., about 70 miles away from Philadelphia, were released by police approximately eight hours after the abduction occurred. Philadelphia police had also released the surveillance video that showed Freeland-Gaither being pushed into a car in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. The abduction occurred about around 9:40 Sunday night. She reportedly struggled to get away, breaking out the rear passenger window of the car. Her smart phone and glasses were left on the sidewalk along with broken glass. There was no indication that Freeland-Gaither and Barnes knew each other.
As the suspect’s arrest was taking place on Wednesday night Freeland-Gaither was screaming for help, telling agents she was the woman who had been abducted in Philadelphia on Sunday. ATF Agent Jones said she was emotionally distraught after the arrest occurred. She spoke with her mother, Keisha Gaither, who said her daughter was crying and very upset.
By Beth A. Balen
Photo by Christopher Ebdon – Flickr