Law enforcement authorities have arrested one man and searched yesterday for at least one other suspect in the kidnaping of a 7-year-old boy, who was released unharmed on Wednesday after his mother paid $75,000 in ransom at a graveyard in rural Virginia near James Monroe's birthplace.
"I was a nervous wreck," the woman, Emily Hall Hynson, said yesterday. She said a man telephoned about five hours after her son disappeared Tuesday afternoon with the message: "Have $75,000 by tomorrow or you'll never see him again."
Hynson and the man agreed in a second call on Wednesday morning to meet at nearby Taylor's Cemetery, 25 miles east of Fredericksburg. Hynson said she drove alone, against the wishes of authorities, because she feared the kidnapers might search her van.
At least two men wearing hoods released the boy at about 2 p.m. and ran off with the $75,000 dropped by Hynson, according to Hynson and authorities.
Westmoreland County sheriff's deputies later arrested Walter West, 20, of Monroe Hall, near Colonial Beach, who was standing in a group of spectators watching police search for the kidnapers. Hynson said yesterday she believed she recognized West, who she said was a customer of her parents' supermarket, as one of the hooded men.
West was being held yesterday in Montross, Va., without bond on a charge of abduction with intent to commit extortion. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.
The FBI, sheriff's deputies and state police continued to search the area yesterday. Westmoreland Sheriff C.W. Jackson said the search teams were using dogs, "looking mainly for evidence." Jackson said yesterday that state police had wired Hynson's van with microphones before she drove to the cemetery, but that "it wasn't effective -- it didn't work."
Hynson's son, Casey M. Pilley, was kidnaped at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as he waited for his mother in her van outside Hall's Supermarket in Monroe Hall, the birthplace of Monroe, the nation's fifth president. Hynson is a manager at the market.
The boy was kept overnight in a car and a shed and at one point was tied to a tree, authorities said. Officials said he was cold but otherwise unhurt. "They gave him two little apples," Hynson said. "He's fine. I think his appetite's better than ever."
Hynson, who was preparing to leave work when her son vanished, said she "knew the minute I circled the store that he was gone. He's the kind of child who has to tell me everything -- not that I demand it." She said she alerted the sheriff's office within an hour, after checking with family members on Casey's whereabouts.
"Everybody prayed," she said. "I can't give enough credit to the police. I didn't know we had so many state troopers."
Westmoreland Commonwealth's Attorney Lynn Brownley said "it was the damnest thing I've ever seen in the county. There were more police than I've ever seen or hope to see. It was very exciting and very scary.
"The little boy said he saw a handgun," said the prosecutor. "The man didn't point it at him, but he showed it to him. With a 7-year-old, you know, you don't have to point it at him."
Brownley said the boy is "quite a little trouper. He remembers quite a lot. He'll be a good witness."
Hynson said her parents, the FBI and a local banker arranged for the $75,000 ransom. "We had to sign for it," Hynson said. She said she was puzzled that anyone in the county would expect that a ransom that size could be easily raised. "It'd be like asking you for a million. Everybody has their faults, but I never thought people in this area could stoop so low." CAPTION: Picture, Casey Pilley, 7, was released after his mother, Emily Hall Hynson, paid $75,000 ransom demand. AP; Map, Map points out rural Monroe Hall, where 7-year-old Casey Pilley was kidnaped. By Kathy Jungjohann--The Washington Post