Kidnap victim Edith Rosenkranz yesterday described for a U.S. District Court jury how she was accosted at gunpoint at a Washington hotel last July, depicting herself as "terrified" when she realized that she was being kidnaped in what became a $1 million ransom attempt.
Rosenkranz, 60, testified that she first believed she was the victim of a holdup in a hotel driveway, but immediately afterward was dragged, running, by her abductor toward a waiting van and told, " 'Run, Mrs. Rosenkranz!' "
"I was terrified that he knew my name," Rosenkranz said. "I knew then there was more to it than a holdup. Terrorists or money or drugs, I didn't know what it was."
Testifying for nearly two hours, the Vienna-born Rosenkranz, speaking with an Austrian accent, ranged over the details of her abduction, during which she was driven, handcuffed and blindfolded, to Norfolk and held there by her captor.
She was released, unharmed, on the Mall about 48 hours later after her husband paid the ransom. The money was recovered.
Two defendants, Glenn I. Wright, 42, and Dennis Moss, 26, both of Houston, are on trial on kidnaping charges in the incident. Prosecution witnesses have depicted Wright as the alleged mastermind of the kidnaping and Moss as the gunman who seized Rosenkranz.
A third defendant, Orland D. Tolden, 26, who has pleaded guilty in the case, testified on Wednesday that Wright conceived and executed the kidnaping in order to salvage his failing business.
Rosenkranz testified that although she was blindfolded with gauze and tape, "After a short time I realized that I could open my right eye." She said she saw from highway signs that she was being driven through the night to Richmond and on to Norfolk.
She said she was told numerous times by Moss, whom she identified in court as her abductor, that she would be killed if she did not follow his instructions.
Rosenkranz testified that Moss had tried to give her a sleeping pill when she was abducted, but that she refused. Once in Norfolk, she said, Moss insisted that she take the capsule.
"I was very frightened," she testified. "I was afraid to be asleep. I wanted to be alert and know where I was."
She said she bit the capsule in two and swallowed half of it. "The other half I kept for a while in my mouth and when I thought he wouldn't see it, I took it out."
According to prosecution testimony this week, Moss held Rosenkranz in the Norfolk area, first in the van and later at a Tidewater motel, until she was returned to Washington and freed.
In her testimony, Rosenkranz also raised the possibility that a fourth person may have played a role in holding her hostage in Norfolk.
She said she awoke from the effects of the sleeping pill when an individual entered the van and drove it around for several hours on the morning after her abduction.
"I had the feeling it was someone else, someone heavier" than Moss, she testified.
"I said, 'Are we leaving?' " she said, "and he said in a deep voice, as if to disguise it, 'I'm the new driver. Don't talk.' These are the only words he said."
Only Wright, Tolden and Moss have been charged in the kidnaping.
Earlier yesterday, Tolden, Wright's former roommate and lover, wept on the witness stand as he testified that he had pleaded with Wright to allow him to leave Washington and return to Houston while the kidnaping was taking place.
"Mr. Wright said it was a bit too late for that," Tolden said, "that the stakes were too high."
Tolden quoted Wright as telling him, " 'Orland, I've never hurt anybody before. Don't make me do anything I'll be sorry for later.' "