Detective who helped find Carlesha speaks

 Detective James Sloan thanking Northwest Detective Division on Thursday afternoon. (Neema Roshania/WHYY)

Detective James Sloan thanking Northwest Detective Division on Thursday afternoon. (Neema Roshania/WHYY)

The night of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither’s abduction, Det. James Sloan promised her mother that he would bring her home. 

Keisha Gaither may have not believed him the first time he said it. But he repeated it until she looked him in the eyes.

“I won’t say something if I don’t believe it,” Sloan told a room full of reporters a day after he fulfilled that promise. 

Freeland-Gaither is home safe now. She’s recovering from the physical and emotional turmoil of her abduction.

After she was brazenly snatched from the 100 block of W. Coulter St. in Germantown on Sunday night, police say a witness, a security guard and Freeland-Gaither’s cell phone played key roles in kick starting the investigation into her disappearance and eventually reuniting her with family late Wednesday night.

Pieces to the puzzle

Of the two witnesses shown in the widely-circulated surveillance footage of the abduction — one on foot and the other in a car — the man walking by, identified as Dwayne Fletcher, called police twice and waited for them to arrive on the scene. 

Police said the outcome of this case may not have been the same otherwise. 

“If he didn’t make that phone call, if he waited, all we would have is a cell phone in the middle of the street,” said Sloan, adding that often more than 24 hours pass before a missing persons report is filed. 

“The sound of glass breaking, many people would associate that with gunfire. You have to put that into perspective.” said Police Inspector James Kelly. “He is a hero.”

Police were able to contact a nearby building’s security guard that night, who got out of bed to let detectives into the building to recover the surveillance footage that would soon air nationwide.

As for the cell phone Freeland-Gaither dropped on the street before being dragged into the car by her abductor, Delvin Barnes, police believe it was a strategic move on her part.

“Carlesha is an intelligent and tough young lady and I think that was crucial in her getting through this horrible experience,” said Kelly.

Kelly added the cooperation and communication between local police and the FBI should be a “case study” on how such multi-operational cases should be handled going forward. 

‘A hell of an ordeal’ 

According to a report from AP, the FBI filed a kidnapping charge against Barnes on Thursday night.

He is also facing unrelated state charges for the attempted murder and abduction of a 16-year-old girl from Virginia in early Oct.

The report adds that Barnes confessed to the crime and admitted he did not know Freeland-Gaither.

Sloan said the case is one of the most memorable in his 22 years on the force.

“We have this 22-year-old girl who has been through a hell of an ordeal,” he said, “and we were able to bring her home.”

The reunion

Also memorable was the moment he walked into her hospital room on Wednesday night with her family.

“I told her ‘I’ve been looking for ya,'” said Sloan. “It was touching. It was a touching moment.”

He added, “[It was] a lot of hard work and prayers.”

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