EDGEWATER, Colo. (CBS) – A 16-year-old girl stabbed her kidnapper and fled the suspect’s car from an interstate highway on Wednesday after a harrowing abduction in Denver’s west suburbs ended hours later across the metro area.
Police said the teenager was bound at the wrists after she accepted a ride from a man at approximately 7:30 p.m. in Edgewater, just west of Denver.
Edgewater police said they are looking for an African-American man in his 30s or 40s with facial hair. He’s either bald or has short-cropped hair and was wearing a brown or green white-striped, short-sleeved shirt and dark pants. He was driving a late model blue or black truck with chrome stripes and orange lights on top.
The victim suffered cuts on her fingers on her right hand, police said, when she stabbed the suspect in his shoulder and rib cage. She was transported to a hospital, and her condition has not been released.
Police on Thursday morning hailed her actions.
“She kept her cool, which is tough to do in a situation like that,” Edgewater Police Chief John Hough said Thursday morning. “She had a plan and she carried that plan out. She basically saved herself from a much more serious incident.”
The kidnapping happened at 24th Avenue and Chase Street. Edgewater police said the victim left the 35th Avenue and Marshall Street area in Wheat Ridge for her home in Lakewood. She told police that while she was boarding a bus near 35th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, the suspect approached her in a vehicle and asked for directions to nearby Sloan’s Lake. He offered her a ride, police said, and she accepted.
Near her home, police said the suspect drove into an alley at 22nd Avenue and Benton Street and drew a knife, bound the victim’s hands and drove away.
The victim told police they drove for nearly an hour before she attempted to escape on Interstate 225 in Aurora by sticking her legs out the passenger door to flag motorists.
When that attempt was unsuccessful, she freed one of her hands, found the suspect’s knife on the car’s floorboards and stabbed him, police said.
The suspect stopped his car, and the victim ran through an exit in the sound barrier walls on I-225 to a residence near Fitzsimons Way, just west of the interstate and north of Colfax Avenue. Aurora police responded at 10:12 p.m.
In a separate kidnapping attempt on Wednesday afternoon, a 10-year-old girl escaped a would-be kidnapper, police said, after he grabbed her by the neck and dragged her 40 feet down an alley at approximately 3 p.m. Police said she fought him off and her screams alerted neighbors.
Police arrested 35-year-old Dennis James Willmore Jr., a registered sex offender, after he fled to a nearby home and surrendered to police an hour later. Police say he suffered some self-inflicted wounds and was taken to the hospital.
“We were able to get one of our negotiators on the phone with him,” John Romero, with Wheat Ridge police, said. “He eventually came out and we took him into custody.”
The girl’s dog she was walking bit the suspect, police said. The victim suffered minor injuries and scrapes.
Willmore was convicted of kidnapping and attempted sexual assault on a child in 1999.