Missing New York woman was held captive in a semi truck for a month before escaping in Iowa

Posted at 6:35 AM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 08:35:53-04

STUART, Iowa -- A New York woman who has been missing for more than a month has been found safe in rural Iowa, according to WHO.

New York State Police said 26-year-old Amber Garrison of Smyrna, New York, was reported missing by her mom on Aug. 9th. She had not heard from her daughter since July 19th.

On Aug. 17th, police said Garrison talked to her mom through Facebook asking her to take down the post saying she was missing, but they didn't hear anything more regarding her whereabouts until she called 911 from a Casey’s gas station in Stuart, Iowa, on Saturday.

“The officer showed up and spoke to a female there. She alleged that she had been kidnapped. She had been in the cab of a semi with a semi driver for about six weeks all over the country, several different states. She was able at some point in that morning on Saturday to get out of the semi and go into the Casey’s store where she made the 911 call,” Stuart Police Chief David Reha said.

Reha said dispatch received several 911 calls from Garrison Saturday morning, but they couldn’t make out what was being said until the last call at Casey’s.

A Casey’s spokesperson sent WHO a statement about the incident:

“We are very thankful that she’s now safe. Our goal is to have Casey’s locations be a safe place for everyone and we’re extremely proud of our Stuart store team members and the actions they took to help her.”

Reha said it took a lot of courage for Garrison to get out of the situation.

“I don't think people necessarily realize the fear that would be going on. Again, I can't go into details, but it was definitely something that you know, she had a reason to be afraid, and it took a lot of courage to come forward to, you know, even just report it,” Reha said.

She told police James Smith Jr. kidnapped her from a truck stop in Pennsylvania in mid-July.

“She had originally met this guy on a dating website. Had met up with him for a consensual kind of visit. And that was where it began. That was approximately six weeks ago. And she's been with him ever since,” Reha said.

Police said she is now recovering in Iowa until she can return to New York.

“She was obviously upset, as would be expected. But I think she's she's doing well now,” Reha said.

Police said they took Smith into custody on Saturday and he is currently being held in the Adair County Jail. He is facing a long list of charges including first-degree kidnapping and first-degree harassment.