LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Gilbert man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for a kidnapping and carjacking that occurred in Lexington County.
Christopher Jody Jennings, 47, pled guilty earlier today to kidnapping and assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct against a 21-year-old woman. Jennings also pled guilty to carjacking and received a concurrent twenty-year sentence.
On November 8th, 2016, the victim went to pick-up food from Shealy’s Bar-B-Que in Batesburg-Leesville for her birthday dinner with her parents. After the victim did not return home, her parents attempted to call her several times and eventually drove around for about an hour looking for her. Unable to locate their daughter, they called 911.
The Batesburg-Leesville Police Department and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department began looking for the victim and her vehicle.
As the victim was leaving Shealy’s and entered her vehicle, video surveillance captures Jennings rushing up to the victim’s SUV. Jennings approaches the opened driver’s side door and forces the victim to move over to the front passenger’s seat.
During the kidnapping, Jennings threatened the victim’s life alleging he had a gun and that he has killed before. He drove her around eventually crossing county lines.
While in the town of Monetta, in Aiken County, Jennings forced the victim out of the vehicle and attempted to sexually assault her multiple times. She was able to resist him and convinced him to stop.
After several hours, law enforcement located the victim’s SUV driving in Batesburg-Leesville and conducted a traffic stop.
As the vehicle came to a stop in the Bi-Lo parking lot Jennings jumped out of the car and ran from the officer.
Video surveillance from the parking lot also captured Jennings running from the SUV. With the use of a K-9 officer, Jennings was apprehended a short distance away.
According to officials, Jennings is a convicted sex offender. He has a previous conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2005 and received a 15-year sentence.
Senior Assistant Solicitor Angela Martin handled the prosecution of this case for the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office and requested a significant prison sentence. She expressed to the Court that Jennings was a predator and a danger to the community.
Senior Assistant Solicitor Martin praised the victim for keeping calm in a horrific situation and for surviving. The victim was present during sentencing and, in a letter, shared with the Judge how this night impacted her and the nightmares that followed.
Batesburg-Leesville Police Department handled the investigation of this case with assistance from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.