Woman rescued from kidnapping after passing note to gas station customer, authorities say

Note said 'help' and 'call 911,' authorities say

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Woman saved from kidnapping after passing note to gas station customer
Following an alleged kidnapping at a car dealership, a woman was rescued after passing a note to a gas station customer, Yavapai County police said.

PHOENIX -- An Arizona woman was saved from an alleged kidnapping by passing a note to a gas station customer that said to call 911, ABC News reported.

The woman was allegedly kidnapped from a car dealership in Phoenix Monday morning by a man "wearing a wig and pretending to be an Uber driver," according to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

The man allegedly restrained the victim with zip ties as they drove toward Las Vegas, spending Monday night at a Lake Mead park, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said.

Around 5 p.m. PT on Tuesday, while at a gas station in Seligman, Arizona, the woman slipped a note to another customer that said "help" and "call 911" and included a description of the van she was traveling in, where they were headed and a phone number, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, which released a photo of the note.

The customer called 911 and provided responding Yavapai County Sheriff's deputies with a description of the woman and man she was with and the direction they were traveling on Interstate 40, authorities said. The deputies alerted the Arizona Department of Public Safety to assist in locating the van.

The van was subsequently found on I-40 with the victim and man, the sheriff's office said. The suspect -- identified as Jacob Wilhoit, 41 -- was detained without incident and multiple firearms were found in his vehicle "in plain view," the sheriff's office said.

Wilhoit was booked on charges including kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment and aggravated assault, the sheriff's office said. It is unclear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

The victim and suspect knew each other, the sheriff's office said. Deputies learned the victim had been reported missing by her mother and entered as a missing/endangered person earlier that afternoon, with Wilhoit named a person of interest, the sheriff's office said.

"It is a crazy story, but one that we wanted to tell specifically because of what the victim did for herself to help herself," Yavapai County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Kristin Greene told reporters.

"A lot of us might've looked at this person like she was crazy, and thank goodness this customer took her seriously and the customer called 911," she added.

Greene said the sheriff's office plans to release more details on the case on Monday.