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N.H. Senator's Wife OK After Kidnap, Robbery

October 08, 2003|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — The wife of New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg was abducted at knifepoint Tuesday from the couple's suburban home and forced to withdraw money from a local bank, police said. She was released unharmed.

Kathleen Gregg, 52, said she found two men inside her McLean, Va., home when she arrived about 9:30 a.m. EDT. One pulled a knife and demanded money, said Jacqi Smith, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Police Department.

Gregg was then told to drive to a local Wachovia Bank branch and withdraw money, police said.

Gregg was not harmed, but "her life was threatened, and it was a terrifying experience," said a statement from the Republican senator's office.

The same men had attempted similar crimes earlier Tuesday and Monday in Arlington and Alexandria, Va., police said, but two women there escaped similar fates. Investigators also are trying to determine whether another abduction and robbery in McLean last week is linked to at least one of the men.

Kathleen Gregg declined to speak to reporters Tuesday. The senator arrived home in a car driven by Capitol police shortly before 4 p.m. He also declined to comment.

Fairfax police said they had no reason to think the robbers knew they had targeted the wife of a U.S. senator. Police declined to say how the men entered the Greggs' home.

One of the men ordered Kathleen Gregg into her station wagon and demanded that she direct him to her bank. The first man drove the station wagon, while the second man followed in a car police said had been reported stolen Monday.

The two cars arrived at a Wachovia Bank branch about four miles from the Greggs' home and in the heart of a busy shopping area. The first man accompanied Gregg into the bank, Officer Shelley Broderick said. Gregg withdrew an undisclosed amount of cash, which the man grabbed before running out the door, police said. Both men fled in the stolen car, police said.

The FBI joined the investigation and began reviewing bank surveillance camera tapes.

Police said the scenario sounded similar to an incident last week that began at a 7-Eleven store not far from the Greggs' bank. In that case, an Alexandria area woman and her two children, ages 5 and 2, were about to drive away from the store when a gunman forced his way into the car.

Police said he ordered the woman to drive to a Bank of America branch in McLean. He instructed the woman to take one of her children inside and withdraw cash while he stayed in the car with the other child as a hostage. When the woman returned with cash, the man fled.

No arrest was made in that case, and Fairfax police were investigating the possibility of a link. "We're not saying they're by the same person," Broderick said of the two robberies, "but this sure looks pretty similar to the one last week."

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