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Doug Winebarger of Hampton's Body Shop prepares to tow the vehicle of a woman who said she escaped from a kidnapper on the Blue Ridge Parkway Thursday evening. The vehicle was found at Cold Prong Pond Overlook, and the woman was located by a passerby about one mile away near the Boone Fork Parking Area, according to authorities.

Originally published: 2011-06-24 07:47:58
Last modified: 2011-06-24 10:14:16

Kidnapping report leads to Parkway search

A large-scale search of the Blue Ridge Parkway occurred outside Blowing Rock on Thursday night after a Charlottesville, Va., woman reported that she had escaped a kidnapper at the Boone Fork parking area, chief ranger Steve Stinnett said.
The 42-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld, was located by a passerby at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. She stated that she had been abducted in Charlottesville, Va., by a man with a gun who forced her to drive her Honda minivan to this area, Stinnett said.
She told authorities that both had walked into the woods, and she had escaped from the man there.
The woman's husband had reported her missing and the vehicle stolen Thursday morning, Stinnett said.
The woman was interviewed and taken to Watauga Medical Center for examination, where she was later picked up by her husband and left the area, Stinnett said.
U.S. Park Rangers, N.C. Highway Patrol, Blowing Rock and Boone Police, Watauga and Avery sheriff's deputies and rangers of Grandfather Mountain State Park conducted a search of the area, using police K-9s and closing the Parkway from Holloway Mountain Road to the U.S. 221 intersection near Grandfather Mountain.
The searchers came up empty-handed at about 1 a.m. Friday and reopened the road shortly after, he said. The investigation is still underway, but the Parkway was open for travel Friday.
The woman described the man as wearing sunglasses and a ski mask, Stinnett said.
Chief Eric Brown of the Blowing Rock Police Department said he and his officers had received a fuller description: a thin, short man in his late 20s to early 30s with no facial hair wearing dark clothing, gloves and boots.
The woman's Honda minivan was towed Friday morning from the Cold Prong Pond Overlook where it was found.
Stinnett added that there is some doubt about the circumstances described, and a National Park Service investigator from the Smoky Mountains has joined the team.
"We're not sure how valid this claim is. We're investigating," Stinnett said.

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