Harrowing video captures woman fleeing kidnapper who held her captive for a year
The harrowing moment a New Jersey woman escaped from her alleged kidnapper was captured in surveillance video at a gas station.
The victim was held captive for a year, authorities in Burlington County said, before she made the escape on 7 February. James W Parrillo Jr, 57, has since been charged with first-degree kidnapping, second-degree strangulation, aggravated assault and third-degree criminal restraint.
Surveillance video obtained by NBC Philadelphia showed the woman arriving at the gas station, with a man believed to be Mr Parrillo following closely behind. She then runs inside and locks the door as the suspect attempts to break in.
The victim told people at the gas station that she had been abducted a year before. Staff took her to the back of the store as they waited for police to arrive.
Jamie Garthaus, who works at the station, recounted hearing screams before the woman rushed inside the gas station’s door.
“The lady came running, like barefoot, and she was like, ‘he kidnapped me,’” Mr Garthaus said. “So, we ran inside and locked the door.”
“I could see the thumb prints, like she had choke marks around her neck.”
The woman told police she had planned the escape after noticing an interior deadbolt on the door in a prior visit to the gas station with Mr Parrillo.
They had been staying in a rented room for two weeks prior. The victim claimed Mr Parrillo had choked her during an argument on the day she escaped.
In the middle of the assault, she said, Mr Parrillo realised there were people in the residence and stopped attacking her.
She then ran to the store with just a shirt and shorts on in the 42-degree weather.
Mr Parrillo was arrested the same day of the escape by New Jersey State Police and is now in custody at the Burlington County Jail pending a trial.
The woman met Mr Parrillo, who she knew as “Brett Parker”, at a gas station on Interstate 10 in New Mexico sometime in February 2022.
She reportedly agreed to give him a ride to Arizona and was in a voluntary relationship with Mr Parrillo for about a month, before he allegedly became physically abusive while they were in California.
“During their time together, Parrillo allegedly took away the woman’s phone, confiscated and utilized her debit cards, and isolated her from her family,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement. “The pair allegedly arrived in New Jersey sometime in December.”
Authorities in the Garden State are now investigating whether he has engaged in similar predatory behaviour after they said they found concerning information on social media.