(CNN) — A woman who had been abducted nearly a year ago while traveling across the country made a dramatic escape from her kidnapper after she concocted a getaway plan to a New Jersey gas station, authorities said Friday.
James W. Parrillo Jr., 57, was charged with kidnapping a woman he met in New Mexico last year, traveling to New Jersey with her and assaulting her in a Burlington County home where they rented a room, according to a statement from New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.
The owner of the gas station, Bobby Madaan, told CNN the woman rushed into his business on February 7, and he heard screaming and yelling from his office. She ran inside the store and locked the door behind her.
Madaan said he saw a man running behind the woman but when he wasn’t able to make it into the locked gas station he turned and left.
“She was shaken up — she was crying,” Madaan said. “She told us she’d been kidnapped for around a year.”
The woman had marks on her neck and was wearing shorts and a thin shirt without any shoes, Madaan told CNN, adding the woman had told him she began plotting her escape after she saw a deadbolt on the gas station door during a previous visit. The woman had planned on escaping from her kidnapper by running to the gas station and locking herself inside when she had the opportunity, Madaan said.
Parrillo followed the woman to the gas station and attempted to open the door but left when he found it locked, according to authorities.
A customer gave the woman a spare pair of his wife’s shoes, and they found a jacket for her while waiting for police to arrive, Madaan said.
After reassuring the woman she was safe, Madaan said the two called police. Parrillo was arrested shortly after on February 7, the attorney general said.
Parrillo and the woman had been staying in the rented room for about two weeks before she managed to escape after being assaulted, according to the statement. The woman ran from the house with nothing on but shorts and a shirt in 42-degree weather, the attorney general said.
They met at a gas station in New Mexico
The woman met the suspect, whom she knew as “Brett Parker,” at a gas station on Interstate 10 in New Mexico sometime in February 2022, according to authorities.
At his request, she agreed to give him a ride to Arizona, authorities said. The woman said she was in a voluntary relationship with the man she knew as Parker for about a month when he physically assaulted her while the two were in California, at which point she felt unable to leave the relationship.
During their time together, Parrillo allegedly took away the woman’s phone, confiscated and utilized her debit cards, and isolated her from her family, authorities said. The pair arrived in New Jersey sometime in December.
Platkin called it a “deeply disturbing case.”
“We are reaching out to law enforcement across jurisdictions to identify other people who may have additional information on the defendant. Our investigation is ongoing and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure we bring justice to this survivor,” Platkin said.
Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick J. Callahan said, “the strength and bravery of the female victim who successfully escaped her assailant is nothing short of heroic.”
“The allegations of kidnapping and abuse at the hands of the defendant represent a year-long nightmare endured by the victim that spanned several states across the country ultimately coming to an end here in New Jersey,” Callahan said.
Parrillo is charged with first-degree kidnapping, second-degree strangulation and aggravated assault, and third-degree criminal restraint, Platkin said. Parrillo also faces a third-degree charge of hindering apprehension, fourth-degree obstruction and refusing to provide a DNA sample.
The suspect is being held at the Burlington County Jail pending trial.
CNN has reached out to an attorney listed for Parrillo and did not receive an immediate response.
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