FBI: Philadelphia woman whose abduction was caught on camera found alive in Maryland

Posted at 5:20 PM, Nov 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-05 20:09:54-05

By Lawrence Crook, Jean Casarez and Chelsea J. Carter


(CNN) — It was a promise from a detective to a mother fearful over the fate of her daughter whose abduction was caught on surveillance video.

“I’m bringing your girl home. I’m bringing your girl home,” the Philadelphia police detective told the mother of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, whose abduction Sunday night sparked an all-out manhunt.

On Wednesday, the promise was kept.

Freeland-Gaither was found alive in Jessup, Maryland, and a suspect was taken into custody, FBI special agent in charge Ed Hanko told reporters. Jessup is southwest of Baltimore.

The suspect has been identified as Delven Barnes, 37, Hanko said.

Related story: Disturbing video shows man dragging woman into car, abduction caught on camera

Barnes is currently being held on a Virginia warrant for attempted capital murder in another case and “then he will be charged federally with the crimes here in Philadelphia,” Hanko said.

Authorities credited the public with help in identifying the suspect and his vehicle.

“Tonight we surveilled that vehicle in the area of Jessup, Maryland,” Hanko said. “… When the subject exited the vehicle, that’s when Ms. (Freeland-Gaither) was recovered.”

Freeland-Gaither is in “good shape” but has some injuries, he said. She has been taken to a hospital and “she is talking to the agents,” according to Hanko.

Freeland-Gaither’s mother, Keisha Gaither, thanked authorities and the public for helping to locate her daughter.

Then she hugged the unidentified detective.

“He brought my baby home,” she said.

The news Freeland-Gaither was found alive follows reports that someone used her bank card in Maryland a day after she was abducted.

A man used Freeland-Gaither’s ATM card at 6:01 a.m. Monday at a bank in Aberdeen. Police had earlier said the ATM card was used on Tuesday.

Aberdeen is about 75 miles from the Philadelphia street where the 22-year-old woman was forced into a car on Sunday night, Philadelphia police Chief Inspector Dennis Wilson told reporters earlier.

Wilson didn’t say how the card was used or whether cash was withdrawn. But he said surveillance video showed a man “similar” to one who police say dragged and abducted Freeland-Gaither.

A second video, also released on Tuesday but recorded about 24 hours earlier, shows a man police say they want to question in connection with the abduction. The time stamp on the video indicates it was also recorded just after 6 a.m. Monday. It shows a man in a dark hooded jacket making purchases at what appears to be a convenience store. No additional information was provided.

On Wednesday, police released an additional video of a man, also wearing dark clothing, making a purchase at a convenience store.

News of the leads came as Freeland-Gaither’s family publicly pleaded to whoever took her.

“Please return her. We just want Carlesha returned to us safely,” her grandmother Ana Mulero said at a news conference with Wilson in Philadelphia. “Just return her to us. We’re her family. She has a family here. We need her.”

Mulero told CNN on Wednesday that she anxiously awaited word from the police on the whereabouts of her granddaughter.

“I just see … a young woman in pain, in danger, looking for somebody to help her — fighting, fighting, ‘Help me, help me,’ with no one around to help,” she said of the abduction video. “And I just put myself in that situation and wish I could be there.”

Mulero described Freeland-Gaither as a “wonderful kid” who “loved people.”

“She was always very loving,” she said. “She was always very close to me. Yes, I was very strict. … I didn’t agree on many things, but she had a lot of respect for me and I had a lot of respect for her. I just wanted her to be a lovely young lady when she got old enough … to go out in life on our own. … People would come and compliment me and say, ‘That’s a very fine young lady.'”

Police didn’t immediately release the bank video. But authorities earlier released a video that they say shows Freeland-Gaither being accosted by an unknown man in Philadelphia’s Germantown-Penn Knox area around 9:40 p.m. on Sunday.

That video, released Monday, shows a man approaching a woman near an intersection and then grabbing her and dragging her down a street, toward the camera.

The released footage doesn’t include audio, but a witness reported that Freeland-Gaither yelled for help, police said.

The video shows Freeland-Gaither tussling on the ground with her abductor and being forced into a four-door vehicle, which police say may be a gray Ford Taurus.

Her glasses and cell phone were dropped onto the road during the struggle. Just before the vehicle pulled away, she broke out one of the passenger side windows, police said.

Police described the abductor as an unknown man of medium-heavy build, 25 to 30 years old. The video shows him wearing a dark jacket with a hood, a dark hat and dark pants.

Freeland-Gaither’s family told CNN affiliate WPVI that she worked as a nurse and was just blocks from her home when she was abducted.

Investigators aren’t sure whether she knew her abductor, though there’s no indication on the Philadelphia surveillance video that she did, Wilson said. Police haven’t publicly talked about a possible motive.

Authorities initially said the abductor’s car had a Pennsylvania license plate, but Wilson said Tuesday that investigators are looking into whether a Maryland plate was on the car’s front. The plate isn’t readily legible in the video, and police said no witness gave them a plate number.

Mulero said her granddaughter lived with her for four years in Maryland before Freeland-Gaither returned to Philadelphia to be with other relatives and pursue a career.

Officials offered rewards totaling $42,000 for information leading to the case’s resolution, including $25,000 from the FBI, which is assisting in the investigation, Wilson said.

CNN’s Ed Payne, Jason Hanna, Ray Sanchez and Dana Ford contributed to this report.

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