FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Authorities were searching Monday for man suspected of holding a 73-year-old woman and her husband hostage at their home, then strapping a device he claimed was a bomb to her ankle to force her to write and cash a check at an area bank.
The woman, Betty Davis, told employees at the bank in Fayetteville about the device, and authorities were able to safely evacuate the building on Monday before a bomb squad could remove it from Davis' leg, police said. Authorities were testing the device to see if it really was dangerous.
Davis told police that a man had been holding her and her husband captive in their Washington County home, and sheriff's deputies dispatched there found her husband tied up but unharmed. Authorities didn't release Davis' husband's name.
Davis' granddaughter Carly Geanolous explained to CBS affiliate KFSM in Fort Smith that a masked man with a gun forced his way into her grandmother's home after she opened the door when the doorbell rang. The suspect forced Davis to write a check, and then tied her up. When her husband arrived, he tied him up as well.
Geanolous said the suspect forced her grandmother to drive to a local Arvest bank in her own car, while he followed her in her husband's truck. The man strapped a device to Davis' leg, told her it was a bomb and showed her a detonator, according to her granddaughter.
"He said, 'All I want is money.' He don't (sp) want to hurt them," Geanolou said to KFSM.
Authorities have examined the device to see whether it was an explosive. Police have yet to release the findings of their investigation.Washington County sheriff's Lt. Emily Augustine said Monday night that investigators believe the couple's story.
"The evidence we have supports the witness statements so far," Augustine said.
Fayetteville police spokesman Sgt. Craig Stout told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Davis was cooperative and didn't show any signs of deception.
The suspect had fled in the couple's truck, and authorities confirmed the vehicle was missing. Fayetteville TV station KHOG reported Monday evening that sheriff's deputies found an abandoned truck believed to be the couple's.
The couple could only vaguely describe the suspect as a white male of an indeterminate age who was wearing blue jeans.
"She's a really brave woman," Geanolous told KFSM. "Very strong. I don't know if anyone could have handled it as well as she did. She's just really a strong woman."
Fayetteville is in northwest Arkansas and is about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock.