Two U-Va. Students Charged in Kidnapping
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Two University of Virginia students snatched a man off a street corner in the Tysons Corner area, tied him up in a Falls Church motel bathroom and demanded a $500,000 ransom, police said yesterday.
The kidnappers used the victim's cellphone to make their demands, and police were able to pinpoint the motel after AT&T provided an approximate location in Falls Church as the origin of the calls, court records show.
Fairfax County police and the FBI staked out a motel in that area and spotted two men going in and out of a room there. When an officer and an FBI agent knocked on the door, they were allowed into the room and found the victim bound and gagged with duct tape in the bathtub, a search warrant affidavit states.
Police charged Guanyu Lu, 19, and Baichuan Shu, 19, both of Charlottesville, with abduction with intent to extort money. Both were arraigned yesterday in Fairfax County General District Court and ordered held without bond.
The suspects were second-year engineering students at Virginia, university spokesman Jeff Hanna said. Both are Chinese nationals, as is their victim, a 20-year-old man who was living with a host family in McLean, Fairfax Officer Don Gotthardt said.
The episode began last Tuesday night, when the victim received a phone call from a friend saying that the friend was having car trouble, Gotthardt said. The victim was not identified, but Gotthardt said he had been a college student in California.
The victim drove to a street corner in the Tysons Corner area, Gotthardt said. He told police that he was met by two men wearing masks who told him they had a knife and implied they had a gun, the affidavit by Fairfax Detective David W. Allen states. The victim reported that he was placed in the back of a four-door vehicle, and police believe he was then driven to the Stratford Motor Lodge, in the 300 block of West Broad Street in downtown Falls Church.
Someone called the victim's host family that night and demanded, in Chinese, $500,000 for the victim's life, Allen wrote. The caller also threatened to blow up the family's home if they contacted police, the affidavit states.
The family received several more calls, telling them that the victim was bound and bruised, Allen wrote. The incoming phone numbers, including some from the victim's phone, were recorded on the family's phone. The family contacted police the next day, the affidavit states.
While police were working to find the victim's cellphone, two men used one of the victim's credit cards at a store in Tysons Corner Center and purchased more than $1,200 worth of clothes, police said.
Allen's affidavit says investigators obtained surveillance video of the men making the purchases with the abducted man's credit card, apparently while the victim was bound and gagged at the motel.
Meanwhile, AT&T was helping police search for the kidnappers by trying to locate the origin of their calls. It determined that some of the calls came from the area of Little Falls Street and Park Avenue, just off Broad Street and very close to the motel, Allen wrote.