FBI: GPS track led to Phila. abduction suspect's arrest

Last Updated Nov 6, 2014 4:16 PM EST

JESSUP, Md. -- A car's GPS tracking device and information from a local sheriff's department in Virginia where Philadelphia abduction suspect Delvin Barnes is facing charges in another abduction last month led to his arrest, according to an FBI spokesman.

Delvin Barnes, 37, is suspected in the Sunday Philadelphia street abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, 22. Freeland-Gaither was seen on chilling surveillance video being forced into a car by an assailant around 9:40 p.m. Sunday night. A witness said she was screaming for help, and kicked out two back windows of the car during the struggle with the assailant, who was armed with knife.


Delvin Barnes, 37, was arrested Wednesday in Jessup, Maryland, for the abduction of Philadelphia nursing assistant Carlesha Freeland-Gaither. Barnes was being held on an outstanding federal warrant for attempted murder, assault, and malicious injury.

Philadelphia Police Department

The search for Freeland-Gaither stretched from Pennsylvania to Maryland when authorities announced that her bank card had been used in Aberdeen, Md., about 75 miles southwest of Philadelphia.

Officials with the Charles City County Sheriff's Department in Virginia, outside Richmond, tipped federal agents off to Barnes' identity and to a GPS tracking unit in his car, FBI supervisory special agent J.J. Klaver told 48 Hours' Crimesider.

Law enforcement officials there saw a used-car dealer's name on a traffic-camera image of Barnes' vehicle and asked the dealership to turn on the GPS unit, said sheriff's Capt. Jayson Crawley of Charles City County, Virginia.

"We called the dealership and within five minutes they had the location," he said.

He said the dealership sells to customers with poor credit and routinely puts GPS devices on its vehicles so they can be easily located and repossessed if the owners fall behind on the payments.

Officials were able to use that car's GPS tracking device to locate the suspect and Freeland-Gaither Wednesday afternoon in the car in Jessup, Maryland, about 45 miles southwest of Aberdeen.

Law enforcement agents spotted her and the man in a car with a broken-out back window in and arrested Barnes after he stepped out of the car, authorities said.

Barnes had a warrant out for his arrest in Charles City County for the abduction and rape of a 16-year-old girl last month, reports CBS affiliate WTVR.

CBS affiliate WTVR reports the Richmond teen was reported missing by her family Oct. 1, and showed up at a business outside Richmond Oct. 3, naked, bleeding, covered in burns and reeking of bleach and gasoline.

The business was two miles from Barnes' home, reports the station. Barnes had previously worked at a grocery store in Henrico, WTVR reported.

Police ran DNA samples and got a hit with Barnes, who has an extensive criminal history in the Richmond and Philadelphia area, reports the station. The DNA hit came back Oct. 28.

The Virginia charges against Barnes are attempted capital murder, abduction, forcible rape, malicious wounding, malicious wounding with a chemical, and intimate object penetration, reports WTVR.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he's thankful Freeland Gaither was rescued, according to the station.

"Had she not been recovered and rescued as quickly as she was," he said, "we don't know what the outcome would have been with her either."

Philadelphia police had released a string of surveillance images of a man using Gaither's bank card at an ATM in Aberdeen and shopping at a gas station convenience store early Monday, less than nine hours after the abduction.

Federal authorities also released surveillance video of the suspect at a Philadelphia grocery store taken before the abduction.

"Right from the night of the kidnapping, the Philadelphia Police Department and the FBI have been working tirelessly to try to solve this case," said Ed Hanko, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Philadelphia Division at a press conference Wednesday night, according to CBS Philly. "With the help of the media and many, many citizens who called in tips, we were able to identify this individual, identify his car, and track it into Maryland."

Keisha Gaither, who a day earlier had sobbed as she pleaded for the safe return of her kidnapped daughter, was smiling as she stood before the microphone at a Philadelphia news conference Wednesday evening.

"I'm taking my baby home. Thank you. Thank you so much," she said.

Freeland-Gaither had some injuries but was generally doing OK, police said. Family members were reunited with her late Wednesday after Philadelphia police drove them to the hospital. Later, Freeland-Gaither was released from the hospital, reports CBS Philly.

Authorities said there was no indication that Freeland-Gaither and Barnes, who used to live in Philadelphia, knew each other.

Delvin Barnes was being held Wednesday night on the unrelated Virginia warrant. Federal charges are expected in Freeland-Gaither's abduction, Klaver said.