Bail Set For Indiana Kidnap Suspect

Jerry White and Kimberly N. Walker
AP Photo/Elkhart Police Dept.
A man accused of abducting his ex-girlfriend and their four children was in court Thursday to face charges that include attempted murder.

Jerry White, 30, told an Elkhart Circuit Court judge during the six-minute hearing that he planned to hire his own attorney to defend him on a felony count of attempted murder and six felony counts of criminal confinement.

Judge Terry Shewmaker entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, which is usual at initial hearings in Indiana, and set his bond at $500,000.

White is accused of bursting into ex-girlfriend Kimberly Walker's Elkhart home on Jan 20, shooting one man and kidnapping Walker and their children, ages 16 months to 9 years old. On Tuesday, police found the family safe at a motel near Walker's home and arrested White, two days after Derek Powers, 18, delivered subs and wings to the motel

Police asked Powers if he recognized a photo of White.

"I'm glad I was able to help," Powers told CBS affiliate WSBT.

The attempted murder charge carries a sentence of 20 to 50 years, three of the criminal confinement charges have sentences ranging from six to 20 years, and the other three have sentences ranging two to eight years. Shewmaker scheduled a Nov. 26 trial date.

During the three-day ordeal, White allowed Walker to call her family three times to say she was all right. Using a code set up before the abduction, Walker was able to alert relatives that she was in danger, Elkhart police Detective Sgt. Bill Wargo said Wednesday.

"When she didn't respond properly, we knew this wasn't something she was willingly doing," Wargo said.

Wargo wouldn't say when the family established the code or how long it had been in use. But records show White and Walker had a troubled past.

In August 2004, White was sentenced to 18 months in prison in Illinois after being convicted in an attack on Walker, said Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

A witness said White grabbed Walker at a bus stop in Chicago, hit her, tied her hands and forced her inside a van, where he choked her. White was convicted of felony domestic battery.

White also had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery in July 1999 and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months of "conditional discharge." He had numerous other jail stints for violating the conditions of that discharge, records show.

The incidents didn't ease with Walker's October move to Elkhart, where she was seeking a better life for her children, her sister said.

Police were called to the Elkhart home nine times before Saturday's shooting, including one report of trespassing on Nov. 27 and a domestic disturbance on Jan. 8. Police declined to release further details, saying the information was part of their ongoing investigation.

Police said White had been harassing Walker in the days before the incident. On Friday, he allegedly confined Walker in her car before releasing her and stealing the vehicle. The next day, police said, he broke into Walker's house and shot her sister's boyfriend, Lathie Turnage, in the face and chest and held everyone captive until leaving with Walker and the children nearly 10 hours later.

Turnage was in critical condition Wednesday and was expected to be transferred to a Chicago hospital for surgery.

"He's going to have a long recovery ahead of him. But he is expected to survive," Wargo said.