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Account of Kidnapping Parallels Film

November 25, 1998|SCOTT GLOVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As investigators' doubts continue to mount in the alleged gunpoint kidnapping of an Encino Bible study teacher, detectives are now exploring whether the woman fabricated the account based on a movie starring actress Alicia Silverstone.

The film, "Excess Baggage," in which a woman fakes her kidnapping to gain attention, parallels several elements of the purported kidnapping earlier this month of Laura Dekkers.

In the 1997 film, Silverstone's character drives her BMW to the fifth floor of a parking garage, binds her hands and feet, climbs into the trunk of her car and then pulls the lid shut. She later frees herself and uses a cell phone to call for help.

In Dekkers' case, her BMW was also driven to the fifth floor of a parking garage. She claimed she, too, was bound at the hands and feet, and once she managed to free herself, used her cell phone to summon help.

"There appear to be similarities, but whether it's a copycat by the victim or by the suspect remains to be seen," said an LAPD source.

Detectives have several other concerns about Dekkers' story, including:

* A witness placing her at the Bel-Air church from where she was kidnapped after she said the alleged crime occurred.

* A medical exam revealing "no injuries at all--nothing, period," according to a police source, despite her allegation that she was hit on the head by her attacker, tied up and held captive in the trunk of her car for hours.

* A comparison of a Nevada casino parking garage videotape and cellular telephone records showing that Dekkers' call to her husband saying that she was kidnapped and trapped in the trunk of her car was placed 13 seconds before the car was driven into the garage.

While declining to discuss the case publicly, investigators have complained privately that Dekkers has been uncooperative since shortly after her "rescue" in the parking garage of Whiskey Pete's Casino, across the California border.

She initially told authorities she was locked in her trunk while driven into the garage by her captor. But a casino videotape showed a woman behind the wheel of the car. When an FBI agent confronted her with the discrepancy the night she was found, Dekkers bolted from the interview room and was later found hiding in a stairwell in the Las Vegas FBI office, several law enforcement sources said.

Dekkers has since hired a lawyer and refused to talk to detectives investigating her case.

"She's trying to get by this terribly traumatic experience," said her attorney, Richard Marmaro.

Marmaro declined to say why Dekkers, who maintains she is the victim of a crime, required his representation. "Victims hire lawyers all the time," he said, declining further comment.

Dekkers told authorities her ordeal began about 10 p.m. Nov. 14 when a masked man kidnapped her from Bel-Air Presbyterian Church in Sepulveda Pass, ordered her at gunpoint to drive to a deserted location, forced her into the trunk and bound her hands and feet.

Her assailant then drove for several hours before they arrived at the casino parking garage in Primm, Nev., she said. After using her cell phone to call her husband, Dekkers said, she called 911 and stayed on the line as authorities, with the help of cellular telephone officials, pinpointed her location.

She described her assailant as a white male, about 5 feet 7 inches with a slight build, wearing a ski mask. Detectives, who have made no progress in their search for a suspect, are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of cooperation from the victim.

"We've got real crimes to solve," a source lamented.

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