The mother of a young woman who investigators say was the victim of a Wednesday kidnapping praised the actions of Bibb County sheriff’s deputies for her daughter’s safe return.
Their work and quick thinking on the daughter’s part may have helped avert tragedy.
In a brief conversation with The Telegraph on Thursday, the mother lauded the cops who, for some six hours, scoured the region to find 24-year-old Alyssa Armstrong and her ex-boyfriend, David Chase Warnock.
According to sheriff’s officials, the pair had recently broken up, and Warnock had threatened to kill himself and Armstrong.
Warnock, 26, was charged with kidnapping Wednesday evening after authorities in Henry County stopped the minivan he and Armstrong were in.
Bibb Sheriff David Davis said Armstrong, who lives in Macon, had talked Warnock into letting her use his cellphone to call her parents. When she did, investigators were able to zero in on the pair’s whereabouts south of Atlanta.
“She really showed grace under pressure,” Davis said.
The sheriff said it appears that Warnock “in some kind of delusional way” thought he could persuade Armstrong “to maintain a relationship with him.”
Thursday, after a first-appearance hearing in a courtroom at the Bibb jail, Warnock was being held without bond.
Though authorities have yet to fully divulge publicly the lengths they went to to track down Warnock, Armstrong’s mother, Kathy Armstrong, described the law enforcement dragnet as “absolutely wonderful.”
“They did everything that they could possibly do to help,” she said, “and we appreciate everything that they did.”
Told of the mother’s remarks, Davis acknowledged other area agencies that helped and said, “I appreciate her being grateful. ... But this goes back to what our basic mission is, and that’s to serve the public.”
About 11:20 Wednesday morning, Bibb sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Gatlin pulled over a car on the backside of Central Georgia Technical College, between Eisenhower Parkway and Williamson Road. The campus lies just south of Macon Mall.
According to an incident report, while Gatlin was there a campus police officer, Lt. Steve Anderson, informed him of a possible kidnapping in one of the school’s parking lots.
A female student had reported that she and Alyssa Armstrong, also a student there, had gone out to the student’s car to get something when Warnock appeared.
The sheriff’s report describes Warnock as Armstrong’s ex-fiance and says he “was already out in the parking lot waiting on the victim.”
The report adds that “the suspect began berating (Armstrong) to come talk to him. She finally agreed to talk to him at his van,” which was parked a few spaces away.
Armstrong, the report goes on, told the student with her, “Don’t leave me.”
Warnock was then said to have “escorted” Armstrong to a Nissan Quest minivan. The vehicle’s side door was “already slid open,” the report notes, and moments later the van zipped out of the parking lot with Warnock and Armstrong inside.
Authorities haven’t said whether Warnock was armed.
Nor have they spoken much about what may have happened in the hours after the encounter in the college parking lot.
Deputies, after getting a tip, thought for a while that the pair might be at a cabin behind a house on Rivoli Drive in north Macon, near Tucker Road and Wesleyan College.
But a search there on Rivoli turned up no sign of the two.
Not long after that, a statewide lookout for the pair paid off.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Bibb deputies received word from authorities in Henry County that Warnock’s van had been stopped, that he was in custody and Armstrong was safe.
Warnock has a criminal past, with ties to Dodge and Laurens counties. He was released from prison in December 2012 after serving six months of a two-year sentence behind bars for cocaine possession with intent to distribute.