CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA – The Chesterfield County Police Department interviewed the female and four males involved in an apparent abduction that occurred in the 900 block of Walmart Way at about 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 20. The investigation indicates no abduction occurred and the incident was a hoax planned by the group, police said in a distributed press release.
Shortly after 9 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to the Walmart, where several witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be the abduction of a female. On Monday, police released information about the incident and surveillance photos of the female and several of the males involved.
On Monday evening, the female, who was safe and unharmed, came to the department’s Hull Street Station after seeing herself on local media outlets. One of the men involved in the incident was with her, and she came to the station in her vehicle, which was the vehicle used in the apparent abduction.
The female and the four males, who are all either 19 or 20 years old, know each other, police said.
After eating dinner nearby, the group went to the rear of the Walmart parking lot to plan the incident, according to Chesterfield Police. They planned to film the staged abduction and the reaction of onlookers and post the video online. After they staged the abduction, they left the area together.
"At the end of the day, I think we're looking at the fact the young lady that was in the trunk and came out of the trunk was found safe and that this was a planned event and not something that could have become tragic," said Captain Jay Thornton, Chesterfield Police.
CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone said the hoax had the potential to become deadly.
"The first thing I think about when I see this, is that if someone had a weapon, they could have used it to defend the person who appeared to be getting abducted.," Stone said.
Many manpower hours were spent on the hoax as well.
"We had many many detectives out yesterday, scouring the area, canvassing the area, trying to get better surveillance pictures, and editing those photos," Thornton said. "We had planning analysts trying to help us with other requests through DMV and State Police. We actually had partners from the FBI helping us as well."
Police are not ruling out charges.
"It could be anything from a summons type offense to a lower misdemeanor," Thornton said.
"It's very irresponsible to fake a staged kidnapping for social media likes, so yes I do believe they should be charged," said Jolene Shifflett.
How it looked to witnesses
"Several witnesses reported that a four-door sedan, which had Virginia tags and appeared to be green or gold in color, pulled up to the store’s grocery-side doors and a male approached the vehicle," a Chesterfield Police spokesperson said. "As he opened one of the vehicle’s doors, the vehicle’s trunk opened and a female jumped out of the trunk and fled."
It was then, police said, two men got out of the car and chased the female - who police described as a black female, about 15-20 years old, with full hair that was pulled up.
"The two males caught the female, who struggled as they forced her through the parking lot and back into the vehicle," police said. "The vehicle then left the parking lot at a high rate of speed."
Police described the male who approached the vehicle as a black male wearing a white shirt, gray shorts and black-and-white shoes.
"The first of the two males who chased the female is described as a black male wearing all black clothing," police said. "The second of the two males who chased the female is described as a black male wearing a blue shirt with an unknown logo on the front and black shorts. The driver, who remained in the vehicle throughout the incident, is described as a black male."