By Tom Jackman and Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The abduction of Barbara J. "Bobbie" Bosworth was captured on videotape by a surveillance camera inside a parking garage at Springfield Mall, where the 60-year-old woman was accosted by two men Saturday as she headed back to her car, police said yesterday.
The footage helps explain when and how Bosworth was abducted from the Fairfax County mall during a routine shopping trip. The carjackers then drove Bosworth in her red Saturn to a PDQ Mart 18 miles away in Prince William County, where they tried to use her ATM card to withdraw money. After arousing suspicion there, the men left the store with Bosworth and crashed the car while fleeing the area, killing the Alexandria woman.
One of the suspects has since died from his injuries; the other, Keith Baskerville, 19, of Woodbridge, remains hospitalized and is expected to survive, police said. He is charged with carjacking and abduction with intent to extort money, and prosecutors said they may upgrade the charge to felony murder.
Shoppers and employees at the mall were wary yesterday, with some saying they had been looking over their shoulders in the parking lot. Several expressed shock that an abduction could occur in the middle of one of the week's busiest shopping days.
"It's scary," said Mollie Downs, who works at Spencer Gifts in the mall. Downs, 19, of Alexandria, said the abduction was on her mind while she was going to work yesterday. "My dad's been talking to me about it. He was, like, 'Make sure you don't leave by yourself,' " said Downs, who has worked at the mall in another store for about four years. "There's been a lot of gang activity."
Although there have been some notable crimes at Springfield Mall in recent years -- a serious stabbing in December 2006, robberies at banks and businesses adjacent to the mall and the December 2007 slaying of Christian Argueta outside the Cerro Grande restaurant -- police statistics show an overall decline in crime at the mall from 2006 through August of this year.
"The shopping centers are microcosms of the community at large," Fairfax police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said. "From the statistics and our anecdotal understanding of crime at the malls, it doesn't appear to indicate they're any more or less safe than the community at large."
Vornado Realty Trust, which owns the mall, said in a statement: "Unfortunately, isolated incidents sometimes occur, as they do in all public venues. We will continue to be extremely vigilant."
The statement said Vornado had "increased the presence of security officers on-site and installed a police sub-station; expanded and upgraded the surveillance equipment on-site; added vehicle patrols to the exterior parking lots; and have more closely coordinated with local police and neighboring malls."
Bosworth, who lived in Alexandria with her husband of 24 years, had recently lost 25 pounds and went to the mall to shop for new pants, her husband said.
Prince William police said her abductors, Baskerville and Lutchman Chandler, also 19, might have used a fake handgun to force her into her car. The surveillance video enabled police to verify that the abduction started there, Sgt. Kim Chinn said.
Shortly before 3 p.m., Bosworth's car arrived at the PDQ Mart on Cardinal Drive in Prince William. The two men walked Bosworth into the store, and she purchased two six-packs of beer, a transaction that can be seen on the store's video surveillance tape. Then they left.
But the group returned and went to the store's ATM, Chinn said. However, Bosworth had never used her ATM card and did not know her personal identification number, her husband said. So she persuaded the men to allow her to call her husband and ask for the PIN.
Her husband, Tom Bosworth, said his wife repeatedly called him "Edward," so he realized something was amiss. She called a second time when she could not get her ATM card to work, again calling him Edward, and after they hung up, Tom Bosworth called Fairfax police, believing his wife was still at the mall.
Inside the store, customers also sensed something odd. A man went over and hugged Bosworth, pretending he was an old friend, and asked whether she needed help, Chinn said. "Yes," Bosworth told him, according to Chinn. "Get the license plate number and call the police."
One of the customers followed Bosworth's Saturn -- apparently driven by Baskerville, with Chandler and Bosworth in the back seat -- out of the parking lot, police said. The car sped off when Baskerville seemed to detect he was being followed and crashed at Neabsco Road and Indus Drive.
Police and victims' advocates applauded Bosworth for her actions while literally under the gun.
"I think that Mrs. Bosworth did all of the things that any crime protection course would instruct you to do," said Mary Lou Leary, executive director of the D.C.-based National Center for Victims of Crime. "In a bad situation, you find a way to let people know you're in trouble. She called her husband, and she told people in the store."
Leary commended the people in the convenience store for trying to help her, calling the police and then following her after she left the store.
"It's a clear demonstration that crime can happen to anybody," Leary said. "In broad daylight, in an open garage."