The news came in late Tuesday night: A man suspected in the kidnapping Monday of a 75-year-old Calhoun County woman had been arrested in Richmond, Kentucky, nabbed by highway patrol officers with the Kentucky State Police after a manhunt was launched.
Tony Lamar White, 47, of Anniston, faces charges of first-degree burglary and first-degree kidnapping, Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said. No court documents were found by midday Wednesday to indicate he had been formally charged at this point.
White was arrested in Richmond as a result of a BOLO issued for a vehicle he was believed to be driving. He was booked into the Madison County, Kentucky, Detention Center, held as a fugitive from another state.
The manhunt for White stemmed from the investigation of what began as a missing person report but was quickly deemed to be a kidnapping.
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At 1:20 p.m. Monday, the woman's family called 911, reporting they'd couldn't find her in or around her Choccolocco Road home. Her keys and phone were found on a bed, and some groceries and her glasses were found in the yard or driveway.
Investigators learned she'd been shopping and tracked her movements from store to store via security cameras. They identified her, Wade indicated, and they spotted a vehicle that seemed to follow her from one store to another, than another.
The sheriff said investigators believe that vehicle followed the woman to her home, where she was attacked and forced into a trunk. By tracking the suspect vehicle, they identified a person of interest and quickly began a search for him.
At his residence on South Wilmer Street, they didn't find the suspect, but they found the woman - bound with duct tape in a closet.
Wade said it was a miracle to find her alive, in about six hours from the time of the 911 call. The sheriff said hundreds of people turned out to help search for her.
The Gadsden Times is not naming the woman at this time because she is a surviving victim of a crime and hasn't given her express permission. However, authorities said she is a well-known member of her community because of the service she's given to it.
She's a member of the local volunteer fire department who worked for years as an ambulance driver. She was well-known to law enforcement officers, Wade and Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge said.
"She is a difference-maker," in her community, Wade said. He said he'd visited her in the hospital, prior to talking to reporters at a press conference Tuesday.
She suffered lacerations in the attack, he said. The suspect, he explained was armed with a knife.
Wade believes the woman was targeted because of her age, and the belief that she would be more easily subdued and controlled.
That a senior was the target is all the more troubling, given the suspect's job: White is a certified nursing assistant who sat with elderly patients, Wade said.
Neighboring law enforcement agencies, including the Oxford Police Department's East Alabama Metro Crime Center, brought essential technology to bear in the search for the woman, someone Wade said they all know well.
Wade said after the traumatic experience the woman went through, investigators had not gotten all details of the incident from her - but he believes there may be much more to this story than a single incident.
"People don't just wake up and go into someone's home and kidnap them," Wade said Tuesday during a press conference.
Wade said the manner of the kidnapping Monday is similar to a pair of incidents in the area in 2012 and 2013 - both involving elderly women followed to their homes and attacked.
On July 15, 2012, an 82-year-old woman was returning to her Oak Grove home in northern Calhoun County. She'd been shopping in Alexandria, and she believed she was being followed by someone driving a small, white sedan.
When she pulled into her driveway, the man followed, too, getting out and rushing her and physically subduing her. He raped her and took some credit cards, but he never used them, giving investigators nothing to track.
On July 28, 2013, in adjacent Talladega County, there was another rape. A 67-year-old woman, investigators believe, was followed home from church, and a man came to her door, telling her he was selling books. He raped her and left with some cash. Investigators said he also was driving a white car.
Wade was chief deputy at the time, and he wondered then, based on the similarities - the victim's ages, the victims followed to their homes, both in rural areas, and the white vehicle - if the two incidents in the two counties were related.
DNA testing proved they were, he said Tuesday.
Talking about those cases in July 2014, Wade wondered if there were other incidents or other attempts.
He raised the same concerns Tuesday. "How often did he follow someone," the sheriff wondered, and then stop, thinking, 'No, this neighborhood isn't right.'
That prospect, and this suspect's job sitting with elderly patients, has left the sheriff concerned that there may be other victims.
Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Anniston man, kidnapping suspect, in custody as probe continues