Cousin's SOS to police saves Bradenton kidnapping victim

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 12, 2013 

BRADENTON -- A 38-year-old North Carolina mother of five is safe after a cousin's call to Bradenton police Saturday led to her recovery after a kidnapping.

During a search for the suspect, a police officer shot and killed the woman's boyfriend.

The Bradenton Police Department received a phone call at 12:30 p.m. Saturday from Lachaundria Harrison, the cousin of a woman being held against her will by boyfriend, Craig Rodgers, in a home on the 300 block of 20th Street East in Bradenton.

Harrison's cousin was being held in a room with no access to a phone after Rodgers smashed it, according to police.

Somehow, unknown to Rodgers, the victim managed to pick up Wi-Fi Internet access on another device and began sending messages to Harrison who called BPD.

"I have a family member that has been kidnapped and taken to your city in Florida," Harrison said. "She is being held against her will and being beaten."

The victim's cousin spoke to police several times in the hours that followed as the BPD struggled to find the victim with little information.

Eventually, police found Rodgers and during a foot pursuit, an officer shot and killed Rodgers. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating, and has not officially released the names of the officer or of Rodgers.

The call chronology that led to the rescue included:

• At 12:36 p.m., Harrison received a call from police to confirm information she had given them.

• At 1:13 p.m., Harrison called police with information about Rodgers' identity and the vehicle the victim had been kidnapped in.

• At 1:46 p.m., police called Harrison to let her know the BPD was doing what it could.

Harrison told them she had received a more dire communication from her captive cousin.

"She said he is going to kill her," Harrison said. "He is threatening to kill her today."

The officer tried to reassure Harrison.

"We got our detectives, a couple of officers and a detective on it," the officer said. "We are doing the best we can with the information we have, I just wanted to let you know."

When police zeroed in on the home where Harrison's cousin was being held, Rodgers fled upon their arrival. He was shot and killed three blocks away after charging at a detective with a long metal pole, according to police.

At 3:29 p.m., Harrison got a final call from Bradenton police.

"I just wanted to let you know, I'm not sure what the scenario is, but she is safe now," dispatch said. "I'm sure she will be in contact."

Rodgers was no stranger to the justice system.

In Manatee County alone, Rodgers' charges include five felonies, including convictions for battery, aggravated battery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Misdemeanor charges include possession of marijuana and cocaine.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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