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Tips from public lead police to Hempfield man who held woman at gunpoint

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Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, 11:51 a.m.

State police in Greensburg said tips from the public helped troopers on Thursday arrest a 42-year-old Hempfield man who allegedly abducted a woman and held her at gunpoint last week in New Stanton.

Dennis Lee Backus Jr. of Swede Hill Road was arrested at a home in Scottdale, said a state police spokesman, Trooper Steve Limani.

“Members of the Pennsylvania State Police Fugitive Apprehension Unit out of Pittsburgh took Dennis Lee Backus into custody. ... Backus was apprehended without incident,” Limani said.

Police said officers recovered a handgun from Backus' car.

Backus was ordered held in the county jail, having failed to post $50,000 bail after his arraignment before night duty District Judge Cheryl Peck-Yakopec.

Police had been looking for Backus since Jan. 16, when he is accused of going to the woman's home about 2 a.m. in violation of a protection from abuse order issued against him on Jan. 2 in Westmoreland County.

The victim said she was entering her house when she encountered Backus on the porch, according to an affidavit filed by Trooper Timothy Culler.

Police allege Backus forced the woman into his car by pointing a gun at her head and repeatedly threatened to kill her. Eventually, the woman persuaded Backus to put away the gun, and he placed it in the driver's-side door compartment. The woman told Backus she wanted to go home. He drove her to a nearby street and let her out of the car.

She then called police.

Backus' preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before District Judge Charles Moore.

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