After a visit with her godson, Carlesha Freeland-Gaither rode the bus back to her Philadelphia neighborhood on Sunday night and was supposed to call her boyfriend to meet her for the final six-block walk to their home.
Instead, a disturbing surveillance video shows the 22-year-old woman being abducted off the street and struggling with her attacker until he apparently pushes her into a vehicle, which shakes violently in a corner of the surveillance frame before driving off.
“She was not just giving up, she wasn’t going to be taken,” her mother, Keisha Gaither, told Philly.com. “She’s going to keep fighting to the end. She’s coming back to me.”
The abduction was seen by a witness, who told police he saw the young woman yelling for help and being forced into a four-door car, possibly a grey Ford Taurus, about 9:40 p.m. Freeland-Gaither’s glasses and cell phone were dropped in the struggle, and just before the car took off, she broke out the vehicle’s rear windows, the witness said.
Police said the attack appeared to be random, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the kidnapper.
The victim’s family members say they can’t fathom why she’d be a target.
“It’s devastating to watch that video,” Gaither told Philly.com. “You see him pull up. He’s so calm.”
“I see him dragging my daughter. I see him hitting my daughter,” she continued. “You can see the way it looks like he was setting her up, it looks like something that was planned.”
Police described the suspect as a 5-foot-10 black male with medium brown complexion and a medium to heavy build. They believe he is 25 to 30 years old and said he was wearing a dark jacket with a dark hood or hooded sweatshirt underneath, along with dark pants and a dark hat.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 215-686-8477 or text 773847.