Rape report shocks city officials

September 26, 1997


Staff Writer

Hagerstown officials expressed both shock and skepticism Friday over a report of a Frederick County, Md., woman being abducted at gunpoint on Dual Highway Monday afternoon and later raped in Pennsylvania.

"I obviously was shocked. Who would have thought, in broad daylight?" said Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner.

He called the incident "a sign of American society," but also said people shouldn't assume that Hagerstown is becoming as dangerous as the metropolitan areas.

"We still live in a very safe place," Metzner said.

But City Councilman Wallace J. McClure said he has doubts about whether the incident ever took place, especially because an abduction on one of the area's busiest roads should have had numerous witnesses.


"If it was a random act of violence, I find it appalling, but at this point I don't buy into it," he said.

According to a police report, the woman was sitting in car on Dual Highway at the Manor Drive intersection at about 2:30 p.m. when a man holding a handgun entered the passenger side of her vehicle and told her to start driving.

The woman drove through the city to the Interstate 81 interchange, where she continued north on I-81 into Franklin County, Pa., the report said. The woman was then told to exit I-81 and pull into a field, where the rape occurred.

The man held the woman overnight and then ordered her back on the road in the morning, police said. At some point, the woman stopped the car and the man got out, and the woman drove home to Frederick County, police said.

The suspect is described as a white man, about 25 years old and 6 feet tall, with a ruddy, dark complexion and red hair. He was wearing a navy blue shirt and trousers, shiny black boots and a dark-colored jacket.

On Tuesday the woman drove around southern Franklin County with police and could not find the exact spot where the rape took place, said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Michael Gayman.

He said the woman also failed to show up for a scheduled interview with police the following day and has not returned phone messages since then.

"We're trying to figure out if there was a rape up here or not," Gayman said.

Police didn't release information about the incident to the media until Thursday, a delay that caused concern among some who live and work near the scene of the reported abduction.

Metzner said the news should have been released to the media sooner, but he didn't blame Hagerstown Police Department because the investigation is being led by the Maryland State Police and the Pennsylvania State Police.

"I can fully understand why (city police Chief Dale J. Jones) does not want to break an ongoing investigation story to the media that is not his investigation," Metzner said. But he added he would like to know why Maryland State Police did not publicize the incident sooner.

McClure said he "wouldn't be a bit surprised" if the delay was because police wanted to carefully check the woman's story before causing a panic.

"There's too many things that aren't tying together on this thing," he said.

Several construction workers rebuilding the House of Kobe restaurant on Dual Highway said they were there when the alleged abduction took place and recalled not seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary.

"It must have been awfully quick," said William Riker, foreman for R.K. Electric.

He and others working at the site said what is even more strange is that no drivers made notice of the incident by getting out of their cars or honking their horns on the heavily traveled road.

"Something doesn't sound right," Riker said.

Several nurses at Colton Villa Nursing Center, also located at the intersection, said they discussed the abduction report among themselves and couldn't find anyone who remembered anything odd about Monday afternoon. None of the nurses wanted to be identified.

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