Alleged kidnap victim arrested, awaiting charges

Tionese Alexander in handcuffs
Tionese Alexander in handcuffs

CAMDEN, SC (WIS) – Camden Police investigators have arrested the woman who claimed she was kidnapped from an ATM over the weekend.  The alleged victim, 39-year-old Tionese Alexander, was called in for a final interview on Tuesday around 2:00 p.m. and she ended up spending the night inside the Kershaw County Detention Center.

Before the arrest, Alexander told WIS she felt as though investigators didn't believe her story.  She said investigators told her they couldn't find any evidence of the kidnapping on the ATM or on the bank's security cameras and money was never withdrawn from her account.

Camden police charged Alexander with filing a false police report. North Carolina agencies may file charges as well.

Alexander said she pulled up to the May Plant Federal Credit Union ATM around 8:30 a.m. Saturday and withdrew $400 from her savings account. That's when she said a man walked up from behind her Chevrolet Suburban, pointed a gun at her, and then forced her into the passenger's seat.

"He came up and put his hands in the truck and his whole, like half his body was inside the truck and he told me to move over and that's when I noticed he had the gun and he had a TASER," Alexander said. "He kept saying that I wasn't going to see anybody anymore that he was going to take me far away. I wasn't going to see my children, not to worry. That was the thing he just kept saying. Kept saying it over and over and over throughout the whole ride," Alexander said.

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said his dispatchers got a call from Alexander's mother, Rosalin Harris, Saturday morning, reporting that her daughter had been kidnapped. Harris told investigators that Alexander called from her cell phone, "I picked up the phone and she said that she was kidnapped," Harris told WIS.

Matthews alerted the State Law Enforcement Division and authorities in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.

"She told me to help her and the phone went dead," Harris said.

Alexander said the kidnapper took her phone from her and hung it up. The pair weren't strangers, according to Alexander. She said the man made several trips to her job at the McBee Dollar General, and tried to form a relationship with her. Alexander said she told the man she wasn't interested, but didn't know his name.

Two Camden Police investigators were inside the McBee Dollar General Tuesday morning. It is unclear who they spoke with or what, if anything, they found that might help with their investigation.

"He found out where I lived," said Alexander. "He found out where I do my business, transact my business and everything and I think that was his purpose because he knew I wouldn't deal with him and he really wanted to talk to me and I didn't want to be bothered." Alexander said she recognized the man at the ATM as the one who approached her at her job.

The pair left Camden and headed toward the Upstate, making two stops along the way, according to Alexander. She said she never tried to get away or ask for help because she didn't know whether he'd kill her. Alexander said she tried to answer several calls along the way, but said the kidnapper wouldn't allow her to use her phone.

Authorities tracked the victim's cell phone to Interstate 26 in Henderson County, North Carolina. Alexander said officers told her they were tracking her cell signal as she passed cell towers along the interstate. Officers found Alexander at a rest stop on exit 40, sitting in her truck, alone.

The victim told WIS that she was able to call for help and had law enforcement on her speaker phone. Alexander said as soon as the kidnapper realized officers were closing in, the man jumped from the truck and ran.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol and SLED agents spent several hours Saturday evening working to track the kidnapper down. That search lasted into the early morning hours Sunday. Authorities never found the man. Camden police drove to Henderson County to pick Alexander up, and drove her back home where she gave investigators her story of what happened.

"I'm not saying they're not believing me, but it's like there are some things there where I think they think this was a set up, or something like that," Alexander said. For example, Alexander said investigators told her they couldn't find any evidence of the kidnapping on the bank's security cameras, and she said, investigators told her they couldn't find where she made a withdrawal from her account at the ATM.

Alexander told WIS that she feels like Camden police are trying to charge her with a crime, instead of working to track her kidnapper down. "That's my main point," Alexander said. "I'm the victim, I'm not the criminal."

SLED agents still have Alexander's cell phone, trying to pull cell records to track down her movements, according to the victim.

Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd has not released any details of the investigation into the kidnapping. Floyd would only say that the investigation was ongoing.

Police have not filed charges on Alexander. We do not know whether Alexander's arrest is connected to the kidnapping, as of this report.

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