Two men are accused of kidnapping a Monroeville woman, tying her up, and demanding $50,000, four pounds of marijuana and guns from her son for her release.
Police say the men video chatted with the son, showing him his mother bound to a chair with her eyes covered, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.
Justice J. McCallum, 24, of Penn Hills and Derrick D. Duke, 25, of Swissvale were arrested Tuesday in Pittsburgh after leading police on a short chase that ended when the car crashed into a city Department of Public Works truck, said Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole.
Police are still searching for more suspects.
The woman was found at an abandoned home on Ladson Street in the city’s Larimer neighborhood. A person called police and said there was a woman tied to a chair on the porch, according to police.
Cole said the alleged kidnappers targeted the Monroeville house and the kidnapping was not random.
The criminal complaint said the woman saw several shapes in the tree line by her Shaw Avenue house when she got home Monday evening. She called her son and told him to call police, according to the complaint. Her son then heard her scream, ran outside and saw his mother’s car driving away from the house, according to police. The son told police he found his mother’s left shoe near where she usually parks her car.
The son called Monroeville police at 8:37 p.m. Monday and said his mother had been abducted, Cole said.
A Monroeville officer began tracing the woman’s cell phone, according to the complaint. It led investigators to believe she was being taken to Pittsburgh. Monroeville police requested assistance from the FBI and Pittsburgh police.
One of the suspects initially called the son with a ransom demand of $40,000 and four pounds of marijuana in exchange for his mother, according to the criminal complaint. The alleged kidnappers called him again 15 minutes later with a new demand: $50,000, four pounds of marijuana and two guns. The son told the suspects that he could not come up with the requested money, drugs and guns.
Police searched searched several properties associated with the suspects and worked with the son on how to handle the ransom requests, according to the complaint. Officers told the son to be patient with the alleged kidnappers.
The son said he could bring $11,000 in exchange for his mother, police wrote in the complaint. The alleged kidnappers agreed. The son then asked to see a photo of his mother. The suspects requested a video chat and used FaceTime to show the son his mother bound to a chair with her eyes covered, according to the complaint.
The alleged kidnappers instructed him to place the money in a garbage can outside a house on Kelly Street in Pittsburgh, police said.
As detectives worked to set up surveillance of the property, the son left to drop off the money, the complaint said. Officers raced ahead of the son in an attempt to tail the alleged kidnappers once the ransom was delivered.
The suspects recognized police vehicles after grabbing the cash from the garbage can, and a high-speed chase started, according to the complaint. During the chase, the passenger, later identified as Duke, bailed from the blue Ford Explorer and was arrested. The driver continued until crashing into an occupied Pittsburgh Public Works salt truck, police said.
The driver of salt truck was not injured. The truck has extensive damage, Pittsburgh Public Safety spokesman Chris Togneri said.
The driver, later identified as McCallum, ran from the crash scene. He got caught in a fence on the 200 block of Polk Way, the complaint said.
Detectives found $11,000 cash in the Ford Explorer.
Police had both men in custody around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Cole said.
During the chase, officers worked on locating the woman. She escaped the abandoned house at Kelly Street by untying her feet and hopping to houses outside pleading for help, according to the complaint.
Around 2:30 a.m., officers received a call from a person on Ladson Street. The caller told police there was a woman tied to a chair on the porch.
District Judge Jeffrey Herbst arraigned McCallum and Duke on Tuesday morning.
Duke is charged with kidnapping, robbery of a motor vehicle, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, theft by extortion, recklessly endangering another person and unlawful restraint.
McCallum, the driver, faces the same charges but will also face fleeing or attempting to elude police officers and reckless driving.
Both McCallum and Duke are being held at the Allegheny County Jail on a $500,000 straight bond. A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 25.