“You don’t expect stuff like that to happen around here," a neighbor said
James Bryan Peterson of North Carolina has been arrested after he was allegedly holding a woman and an 8-month-old baby captive, police said.
According to a press release from the Pender County Sheriff’s Office, the unidentified 24-year-old woman was able to escape and call 911 on Aug. 9, when she told authorities “that she was being held against her will.”
The Wilmington Star-News, which obtained warrants from the case, reports that Peterson, 54, allegedly held the woman and her child captive for over a month.
According to the Star-News, Peterson allegedly kidnapped the woman and the baby around July 4, and then moved them from a place of “initial restraint” in his driveway to a spot about 75 yards from his residence on Aug. 1.
He allegedly used a taser on the woman multiple times, held her at gunpoint and sexually assaulted her, the Star-News said.
Following the woman’s 911 call, Peterson was arrested and charged with two counts of assault on a female, one count of sexual battery, and one count of assault by pointing a gun, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office release explained.
Peterson was held in the Pender County Jail under a $20,000 bond and was released on Aug. 10 after posting bond.
According to the Pender County Sheriff’s Office, a search warrant was then executed at Peterson’s home. Upon further investigation, he was arrested again, this time for crimes including one count of human trafficking adult victim, one count of human trafficking child victim, one count of first-degree kidnapping and one count of sexual servitude.
He is now being held under a $2 million bond at the Pender County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, the release explained.
The Pender County Sheriff’s Office had no additional comment when reached by PEOPLE.
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Ashley Gurganus, a neighbor, told WWAY that she was “shocked” by Peterson’s arrest.
“You don’t expect stuff like that to happen around here,” she said. “And then to find out it’s pretty much your neighbor, it’s very scary.”
“I think he kind of, maybe kept to himself,” she added of Peterson. “I never really saw him in and out much. You just usually hear it happening far away or across seas. Something like that. But when it happens in your hometown, you just can’t believe it.”
Neighbors told the outlet that there was a solar panel company behind Peterson’s house, so they were used to seeing people walking in and out.
Authorities explained that the investigation is still ongoing, and anyone with information about the investigation is encouraged to contact the Pender County Sheriff’s Office at 910-259-1212.