Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, a 22-year-old nursing assistant who was violently abducted on a Philadelphia street on Sunday, has been found alive in Maryland.
Local and federal law enforcement officials said at a news conference Wednesday night that Freeland-Gaither was found in a parked car in Jessup, Md. — “in good shape” but with “some injuries” — and that her suspected kidnapper has been arrested.
The man, 37-year-old Delvin Barnes, is being held on an outstanding warrant for capital murder and other crimes; officials said they plan to bring federal charges against him in the abduction of Freeland-Gaither.
Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey called Barnes “a vicious predator” and said “hopefully, he’ll be in jail for the rest of his life. That’s the only thing he deserves.” He added: “He’s a thug and this is what he does, apparently.”
Ramsey said it was “very special” to find Freeland-Gaither alive.
“I’m taking my baby home!” her mother, Keisha Gaither, said at the news conference.
Freeland-Gaither was taken to Howard County General Hospital after the three-day ordeal. She was released overnight after undergoing medical tests, said hospital spokeswoman Sharon Shopp.
The saga began Sunday night, when Freeland-Gaither was forced into a car, in a terrifying incident captured on video by a security camera. A witness told investigators that Freeland-Gaither, who lost her cellphone and her glasses in the struggle, screamed for help during the abduction on a Philadelphia street.
Her bank card later was used in Aberdeen, near the Maryland-Delaware border; investigators also released a video that showed a man described as a person of interest in a Maryland convenience store.
On Wednesday night, a team of law enforcement agents including U.S. marshals, ATF agents, and FBI agents based in Baltimore located Freeland-Gaither and Barnes in a vehicle parked on the side of a road in Jessup, in Howard County.
The detective who spoke at the media conference in Philadelphia said the vehicle was found on Waterloo Road, just off of Route 1, by a shopping center that includes a Starbucks, an organic grocery store and other stores. It is across the street from a Maryland State Police barrack.
“You hope, you hope, you hope,” Ramsey said at the news conference. “But you don’t know … this has a happy ending. This woman has gone through a lot of trauma in the last few days, and we need to respect her privacy.”
A Philadelphia police detective said at the news conference that investigators did not know of any link between Barnes and Freeland-Gaither.
Police and FBI agents at the press conference thanked members of the public for calling in tips that led to the identification of Barnes and of his vehicle. The detective said that Barnes was a former resident of Philadelphia who also had ties to Virginia.
Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.
[This post has been updated.]