More than four hours after a 15-year-old girl was abducted in her Cleveland-area hometown, a van carrying the girl and her three suspected captors was stopped on U.S. 50 near Ellenboro.
"One vehicle cut them off in front and the other one pulled behind them, and they just pulled over," said Ritchie County Sheriff Ron Barniak. “Our officer followed them for three or four miles before they made the stop."
Jason Thomas Myers of Elyria, Ohio and two passengers in the van, Derrick Carroll of Amherst and Jessica Hawkinberry of Wakeman, all in Lorain County, Ohio, are being held in the North Central Regional Jail.
The girl is to be returned to her mother, but that's only part of the story. The apprehension happened after an Amber Alert that was heard on an area radio station by a passing motorist who saw the van and contacted authorities.
"People care and they call in. Some people wouldn't want to get involved, but this guy didn't have a problem with it," Sheriff Barniak said.
Sheriff's deputies say that after she was captured the girl was allowed to go to her Amherst, Ohio home. There, she wrote a note to her mother explaining what had happened to her. The mother later saw the note and contacted authorities. Just before noon, Wood County's 911 Center issued the Amber Alert, which was heard by the motorist, something that wasn't possible just a few years ago.
Said the Sheriff, "It's just one other tool we use with the public's help. We're only as good as the public. The kind of information we're given is how well we do our jobs."
The driver who tipped off authorities is identified as Douglas Huffnagel of Brunswick, Ohio. Sheriff Barniak plans to send him a letter of thanks for his efforts.