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Abducted Philadelphia woman found; police fear suspect attacked others

Philadelphia woman kidnapped in haunting video is found safe in Maryland, suspect arrested

A 22-year-old Philadelphia woman whose kidnapping was captured in a chilling surveillance video this week was found alive Wednesday, and her suspected captor was arrested in Maryland.

Carlesha Freeland-Gaither was found in Jessup, Md., three days after police released a video that showed a man stalking her through the Germantown section of Philadelphia before dragging her into a car, police said Wednesday.

At a news briefing, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Delvin Barnes, 37, was found with the woman, and he was arrested without incident.

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FOR THE RECORD

Nov. 7, 5:06 p.m. An earlier version of this story spelled the suspect's first name incorrectly. 

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Capt. Jayson Crawley of the Charles City County Sheriff's Office in Virginia told the Los Angeles Times that Barnes was also the lone suspect in the abduction and sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 1.

In that case, Barnes was charged with attempted capital murder, forcible rape, malicious wounding, malicious wounding by throwing a chemical agent and abduction, he said.

Crawley said police are concerned that the attacks may be part of a larger pattern.

“We’re thinking that there may be multiple victims out there," Crawley told The Times. "He did intimidate our victim and showed her photos of girls he claimed he did this to before, and we’re just hoping if there are other victims out there, they will come forward.”

Barnes did not know Freeland-Gaither. When asked about a possible motive in the abduction, Ramsey simply said, "Don't know, other than that he's a thug."

“He’s a vicious predator, he’s off the streets and hopefully he’ll be in jail for the rest of his life," Ramsey said in Philadelphia on Wednesday. "That’s the only thing that he deserves.”

The victim's mother, Keisha Gaither, hugged several officers while thanking all of the law enforcement agencies involved in the search.

“I’m gonna get my daughter," she said. "I’m gonna get my baby.” 

Barnes was arrested by a group of federal agents and is being held on a warrant for attempted capital murder in Virginia, according to Edward Hanko, special agent in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia office.

Public records show Barnes had been arrested at least a dozen times since 2001. Many of the cases were dismissed, and in several instances he was found not guilty, records show.

Most of the arrests took place in Virginia on a range of charges including contributing to the delinquency of a minor, robbery, weapons offenses, felony possession of stolen property, breaking and entering, and multiple driving infractions.

Barnes had lived in the Philadelphia area, but also has ties to Virginia, Ramsey said. He will face federal charges in the woman's kidnapping once he is extradited to Pennsylvania, according to Hanko.

Crawley told The Times that Barnes may have run to Philadelphia last week after police began to suspect him in the Virginia attack. A DNA test led police to search Barnes' residence in Virginia on Oct. 29, Crawley said, and Barnes disappeared shortly after.

Barnes is originally from Philadelphia and moved to Virginia at a young age, according to Crawley, who said he’d attended high school with the suspect.

“In school, I remember him being a normal quiet guy, nothing out of the ordinary attracting any attention to him," Crawley said. "Just a quiet, reserved guy.”

The extent of Freeland-Gaither's injuries was not immediately clear, but she was able to speak with her mother by phone, Ramsey said. The victim was taken to a Maryland-area hospital Wednesday night, police said.

Freeland-Gaither struggled with her abductor on Sunday night, kicking out the windows of the car she had been thrown into, city police spokeswoman Christine O'Brien previously told the Los Angeles Times. 

Police picked up Freeland-Gaither's trail Tuesday, when her ATM card was used in Aberdeen, Md., about 80 miles south of Philadelphia. 

Security cameras showed a man swiping the card, but it was not clear whether that person was Barnes.

Jessup, the town where she was located on Wednesday, is another 50 miles south of Aberdeen and more than 100 miles south of Philadelphia.

The FBI, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, the city's police union and the Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission combined to offer more than $40,000 in reward money for information leading to Freeland-Gaither's safe return.

“I just want to thank everyone.… My family and my friends, everybody -- thank you so much for having us in your prayers; thank you for keeping me up," Keisha Gaither said. "I’m taking my baby home!”

Times staff writer Javier Panzar contributed to this report.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

5:55 p.m.: This post was updated with additional information about accusations that Delvin Barnes abducted and sexually assaulted a teenage girl in Virginia.

5:20 p.m.: This post was updated with additional information about Delvin Barnes' criminal history.

This post was originally published at 5:01 p.m.

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