A college student, kidnapped in Georgia was able to save her life – thanks to her quick thinking and smartphone. The location feature on her phone truly came in handy as this paved the way for her to alert her boyfriend of her whereabouts.
University of West Georgia senior Jaila Gladden went to a local Kroger grocery store to buy some tea and medicine. Little did she know that she was up for a very distressing night. In fact, she was even posting videos on Snapchat before paying. After getting her stuff, she walked towards her car in the parking lot where she was approached by a man. The said stranger asked if she had a lighter, to which Jaila answered no.
Jaila kept on walking and the man kept on following her. When she got to her car, she felt a knife against her abdomen. The man then ordered her to go inside. She entered the car through the driver’s seat and moved her way towards the passenger’s seat. The man followed her and asked her if she knew how to go to Atlanta.
Aspiring occupational therapist Jaila Gladden
Video taken from Kroger’s Parking Lot
The next thing she knew, they were driving to Atlanta. In the middle of the trip, the man pulled up behind an abandoned church. That was when she was asked to take off her clothes. Jaila was raped and as she was crying and pleading, the man answered her with “no purpose in crying.” After the man was done, he continued driving.
The man shared that he planned to rob a gas station and then go to Michigan. Jaila said he noticed the man to be very serious and never took his eyes off the road.
The next thing that happened gave an opportunity for Jaila to escape. The kidnapper asked her to guide him to a gas station. Jaila then told the man the she cannot do that unless he gives her phone back to her so she could check on Google Maps. The man gave in and Jaila immediately turned the brightness of her phone down and started her plan of escape. She started by sharing her location details to her boyfriend via text message.
“It was the most logical thing to do,” Jaila said.
Below are the screenshots of the text messages exchanged by Jaila and her boyfriend Tamir Bryant.
Jaila sending her location via text
Tamir was sleeping when his girlfriend texted. He instantly believed that the texts were serious as he knows Jaila would not do anything like that for any reason.
At the middle of Jaila using her phone, the man grabbed it back and put her in the trunk of the car. They entered a gas station, which the man planned on robbing. A few minutes later, the man came back and told Jaila that he was not able to execute his plan because there was a security guard. He said he would just rob a Krogers or Walmart instead.
The man once again asked Jaila to look up for directions and gave her the phone. Again, she was able to contact her boyfriend and provide more information. At that point, Tamir was already at a police station in Georgia. The police asked him to ask Jaila what kind of car they were driving.
Here's the continuation of the secret text conversations:
Jaila’s roommates helped by giving information about their friend’s car – a green Honda Accord. This information was forwarded to the Atlanta Police Department, which then started their hunt for Jaila and her kidnapper.
The last text from Jaila was “Don’t let me die.” After this, she had stopped responding through text.
Jaila guided the man to a nearby Kroger. He pulled up at the parking lot of an apartment compound across the store and put Jaila back in the trunk. After a few minutes, the man came back and let Jaila out, explaining that there was a security guard so he’d just carry out his plan of robbery the next morning.
A police officer found that the car parked in the apartment complex matched Jaila’s car description. The car’s engine was on, but the car was turned off, which made the police more suspicious. The moment the man noticed the police, he turned on the lights and drove speedily to the exit, bumping into four cars and even into a parked patrol vehicle.
The officers then pulled up their weapons and told him to stop. The man did not listen and attempted to escape, leading him to crash into a fence.
At this point, Jaila was able to get out of the car and ran towards the cops. She reported that the man jumped off the fence and ran away.
Meanwhile, Tamir, who was at the Georgia police station came out of the interview room and announced that he had his girlfriend on FaceTime.
“I saw police lights in the background; she was running and crying,” Bryant told BuzzFeed News.
The kidnapper was identified as Timothy Wilson. He was charged with kidnapping, hijacking a motor vehicle, aggravated assault, rape, aggravated sodomy, false imprisonment, and aggravated assault against a police officer. He is currently behind bars now after 10 hours of police search. His public attorney refused to make any comments.
Boyfriend Praises Girlfriend
Tamir gave all the credits to Jaila for being able to stay composed and think of a way to escape amidst the fear. He said it was Jaila’s move to share her location via text message that really paved the way for her own safety.
“If I didn’t get the location, who knows what would have happened,” Tamir said. “Her doing it on her own — she was able to outsmart the bad guy.”
Jaila believes what happened to her could have been prevented if there was a security officer in the parking lot where she was initially abducted, the official police report stated.
The Girl Who Escaped Using Her Phone
Georgia Police also praised Jaila for using her smart phone to escape. The spokesperson said the public could learn from Jaila, and try to put the location setting on smartphones to good use.
“If this victim did not have her phone and did not think quickly she may not have been as lucky,” the spokesperson said.
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