Abducted Germantown woman’s debit card used in Md., new suspect images released [updated video]

 Carlesha Freeland-Gaither's family consoling one another at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Her mother, Keisha, is on the right. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Carlesha Freeland-Gaither's family consoling one another at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Her mother, Keisha, is on the right. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Less than two days after she was abducted off a Germantown street, Carlesha Freeland-Gaither’s parents stood before a packed room and pleaded for their daughter’s return. 

“Please give me my child,” her mother Keisha Gaither said through sobs at the 35th District police headquarters. “Please let her go. Please give her back.”

“Just release her,” said Carlesha’s father Carl Freeland. “Come and get me.”

The 22-year-old woman was abducted from the 100 block of W. Coulter St. at 9:40 p.m. Sunday in a brazen attack caught on video.

Clues emerging

Police said Freeland-Gaither’s debit card was used at a stand-alone ATM in Aberdeen, Md. at 6:01 a.m. Monday. Surveillance footage from the ATM shows a male wearing dark clothing using her card. 

Police — the FBI, Maryland police and the Northwest Philadelphia Detective Division — are looking into whether the male shown there is the same individual seen dragging the victim into a car on Sunday night, according to Chief Inspector Dennis Wilson. 

Family members said Freeland-Gaither did have contact with a man in Maryland who resembles the description of kidnapper.

Freeland-Gaither lived in southern Maryland with her paternal grandmother, Ana Mulero, from the ages of four to 19.

She moved back to Philadelphia to be closer to her mother and siblings and pursue a higher-paying job, Mulero said. 

Audio from the footage of the abduction has not been released.

According to police, that audio includes sounds of glass breaking and Freeland-Gaither yelling for help, but there is no indication from her screams as to whether she knew her captor. 

Freeland-Gaither dropped her eyeglasses and cellphone into the street and kicked out the driver-side rear window before the car pulled away.

Reward fund growing

A reward totalling $42,000 is being offered for her return.

The FBI announced a reward of $25,000 on Tuesday, adding to $10,000 from the City of Philadelphia; $5,000 from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and $2,000 from the Citizens Crime Commission. 

The vehicle shown taking her is a 2000-2002 dark-grey, four-door Ford Taurus with unknown Pennsylvania plates. It’s missing its inspection stickers, police said.

She was just three blocks from her home on Sunday night when the “aggressive abduction” took place. 

Both witnesses shown in the surveillance footage of the abduction — one in a car who backed away off of the street after seeing the struggle and one who was on foot — have been interviewed by police.

Descriptions

At the time of the abduction, Freeland-Gaither was wearing light blue jeans, a grey and white sweater, jean jacket and tan shoes, according to her family.

The suspect is a 5-foot 10-inch tall black male in his late twenties with a medium to heavy build. He was wearing a dark colored jacket with a dark-colored hood (possibly a hooded sweatshirt) underneath, dark-colored hat and dark-colored pants at the time.

Investigators ask anyone with information about the case, or suspects, to call Northwest Detective Division at (215) 548-4756.

The family also asks anyone with information to contact them at (215) 200-6123. 

5:15 p.m. update

Police have released a photo of the individual who used Freeland-Gaither’s debit card at a PNC Bank ATM in Maryland on Monday morning.  

Aberdeen_8_.png

(Image courtesy of police)

Clarification: Earlier versions of this story reported the ATM card was used Tuesday morning. Police later announced the card was actually used Monday morning. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.