Woman alleges capture, threats by parents
By Denise Dick
By DENISE DICK
A Campbell woman of Yemeni descent says she was abducted by her parents and taken to Hermitage, Pa., where they threatened to send her back to her homeland.
The victim, 32, told police she was leaving a doctor’s appointment at an office on U.S. Route 224 when her father came up behind her, grabbed her in a bear hug and put her in the back seat of her car.
The father then got into the driver’s seat, and her mother in the back seat with her. They drove to the Sheetz gas station in Hermitage.
No charges have been filed.
“I’m still gathering information and still trying to talk to witnesses,” said Boardman Detective Glenn Patton.
The woman told police that her parents, who are Muslim, don’t approve of her marriage to a Christian man.
Reached Friday, the woman, who was born in the United States, said she’s OK and she wasn’t injured.
Unidentified men brought the rental van the woman’s parents had been driving to Sheetz, she told police. The men then took the woman’s car. Police entered the car as a stolen vehicle.
She and her parents argued, and the parents told her that her brother was going to meet them, take her to New Jersey and that she would be sent to Yemen.
The woman sent her husband a text message, telling him she needed help.
Her husband went to Campbell schools, where his wife’s daughter is a student, to remove her from school. Campbell Police Detective Sgt. John Rusnak said the husband was concerned that the girl was in danger and wanted to remove her from school.
While at the school, the husband encountered Sean Kilbane, the school-resource officer, Rusnak said, and relayed the story. Kilbane spent 11 months in Afghanistan while in the military and advised the husband to involve police.
Police called the woman’s father’s cell phone, but he told them he was at work. When police called his work place, they were told he wasn’t at work that day, Rusnak said.
Patrolman John Gulu, who coaches the daughter’s softball team, was able to reach the woman on her cell phone.
“The first thing he asked was, ‘Are you OK? Are you safe?’” Rusnak said. “She said, ‘No.’”
To keep from raising her parents’ suspicions, Gulu asked yes-and-no questions, interspersed with questions about softball in case the woman’s parents listened, the detective said.
Gulu learned the woman’s cell phone provider and another officer, Patrolman Dan Burich, contacted the company. The company, using GPS, gave police an approximate location for the cell-phone signal.
Campbell police contacted police in Hermitage and provided them with a description of the vehicle and the location. Hermitage police stopped the van and took the woman to their department, where she was picked up by her husband.
“At that point, we didn’t know what we had,” Rusnak said. “All we knew was that there was a person in a van who didn’t feel safe. We weren’t concerned with charges at that point. We were worried about her safety.”