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Cops search trucks after report of gagged woman

October 22, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Police searched trucks leaving the Pilot Travel Center on Md. 63 just north of the Interstate 70 interchange Thursday night after a patron said she briefly saw a woman, standing alone, with black tape across her mouth.

At around 9 p.m., after about an hour of looking, police had not found the gagged woman. They still were stopping tractor-trailers on their way out of the truck stop past 10 p.m.

Maryland State Police Cpl. Wayne Wachsmuth said police officers were looking in cabs and a police K-9 was checking the trailers.

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The Hagerstown Police Department sent five detectives to help with the search and sent uniformed officers to assist with traffic, Sgt. Fred Wolford said.

About three or four officers from the Washington County Sheriff's Department also assisted.

As police continued to search, the patron who reported seeing the woman sat with a male friend in a pickup truck, on the opposite end of the truck stop, away from the commotion.

They said they drove from Cumberland, Md., to Washington County on Thursday to shop, and they stayed for dinner.

The female patron, who didn't want to give her name, said she had just left the travel center building and was about to get into the truck when she heard a grunt.

She said she looked up and saw the woman with tape over her mouth, standing about 30 feet away. The woman had her hands behind her back, but it was not clear if her hands were tied, the patron said.

She got in the truck and told her friend what she saw. Then they both went inside and told a clerk, who called 911, they said.

The patron said some truck drivers were giving her grief about causing a delay, but she and her friend didn't regret reporting what she saw.

"I take this very seriously," said her friend, who didn't see the gagged woman.

He said they didn't try to help the woman themselves because they were concerned that if she were being kidnapped, her captor might have a gun.

- Staff writer Julie E. Greene contributed to this story

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