FBI: Abducted Philadelphia woman found alive in Maryland; suspect arrested
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (CNN) — A Philadelphia police detective made a promise to a devastated mother: “I’m bringing your girl home.”
On Wednesday, the promise was kept.
Carlesha Freeland-Gaither was found alive, three days after her abduction was captured on a surveillance video in Philadelphia and sparked an all-out manhunt, FBI special agent in charge Ed Hanko told reporters.
Freeland-Gaither was found in Jessup, Maryland, southwest of Baltimore, and a suspect was taken into custody, he said.
The suspect has been identified as Delven Barnes, 37, Hanko said.
Barnes is currently being held on a Virginia warrant for attempted capital murder in another case and “then he will be charged federally with the crimes here in Philadelphia,” Hanko said.
Authorities credited the public with help in identifying the suspect and his vehicle.
“Tonight we surveilled that vehicle in the area of Jessup, Maryland,” Hanko said. “… When the subject exited the vehicle, that’s when Ms. (Freeland-Gaither) was recovered.”
Freeland-Gaither is in “good shape” but has some injuries, he said. She has been taken to a hospital and “she is talking to the agents,” according to Hanko.
Freeland-Gaither’s mother, Keisha Gaither, thanked authorities and the public for helping to locate her daughter.
Then she hugged the unidentified detective.
“He brought my baby home,” she said.
The kidnapping is believed to be a “stranger abduction,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said on CNN’s “AC360” on Wednesday night.
“That’s the way it looks now. Of course, we are in the process of interviewing her now,” he said.
The news Freeland-Gaither was found alive follows reports that someone used her bank card in Maryland a day after she was abducted.
A man used Freeland-Gaither’s ATM card at 6:01 a.m. Monday at a bank in Aberdeen. Police had earlier said the ATM card was used on Tuesday.
Aberdeen is about 75 miles from the Philadelphia street where the 22-year-old woman was forced into a car on Sunday night, Philadelphia police Chief Inspector Dennis Wilson told reporters earlier.
Wilson didn’t say how the card was used or whether cash was withdrawn. But he said surveillance video showed a man “similar” to one who police say dragged and abducted Freeland-Gaither.
A second video, also released on Tuesday but recorded about 24 hours earlier, shows a man police say they want to question in connection with the abduction. The time stamp on the video indicates it was also recorded just after 6 a.m. Monday. It shows a man in a dark hooded jacket making purchases at what appears to be a convenience store. No additional information was provided.
On Wednesday, police released an additional video of a man, also wearing dark clothing, making a purchase at a convenience store.
Police didn’t immediately release the bank video. But authorities earlier released a video that they say shows Freeland-Gaither being accosted by an unknown man in Philadelphia’s Germantown-Penn Knox area around 9:40 p.m. on Sunday.
That video, released Monday, shows a man approaching a woman near an intersection and then grabbing her and dragging her down a street, toward the camera.
The released footage doesn’t include audio, but a witness reported that Freeland-Gaither yelled for help, police said.
The video shows Freeland-Gaither tussling on the ground with her abductor and being forced into a four-door vehicle, which police say may be a gray Ford Taurus.
Her glasses and cell phone were dropped onto the road during the struggle. Just before the vehicle pulled away, she broke out one of the passenger side windows, police said.
Freeland-Gaither’s family told CNN affiliate WPVI that she worked as a nurse and was just blocks from her home when she was abducted.
Investigators aren’t sure whether she knew her abductor, though there’s no indication on the Philadelphia surveillance video that she did, Wilson said. Police haven’t publicly talked about a possible motive.