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2 Suspects in Kidnapping of Senator's Wife Arrested

The men are accused of abducting Kathleen Gregg at knifepoint and robbing her.

October 10, 2003|John J. Goldman | Times Staff Writer

CARTERET, N.J. — Two men suspected of kidnapping the wife of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) were arrested by police in this industrial community alongside the New Jersey Turnpike after they parked in a commuter lot being staked out by narcotics detectives.

Christopher Lee Ford, 31, and Michael John Pierre, 26 -- both of the Washington, D.C., area -- are accused of abducting Kathleen Gregg at knifepoint Tuesday from her home in McLean, Va., and forcing her to drive to a bank, where she withdrew money before escaping unharmed.

"We had our special investigation unit doing surveillance in an area of town ... a known drug location," Carteret Police Chief John Pieczyski said in detailing the Wednesday night arrests.

"The officers noticed two persons acting suspiciously. They looked up the Virginia plate on the vehicle, which certainly stood out," Pieczyski told a news conference Thursday. The car turned out to be stolen.

Pieczyski said that as detectives approached, Ford jumped into the vehicle, with officers in pursuit. A 3 1/2-mile car chase ended when the vehicle Ford was driving sped across a roadway, smashed into a fence and plunged into a creek.

Ford -- who suffered a broken leg and other injuries -- was being treated at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.

Police captured Pierre, who had tried to run away, a short distance from the parking lot.

Carteret Mayor Daniel J. Reiman said police had increased patrols in the area in an effort to stop drug and gang activity. Ford and Pierre, the mayor said, had checked into a Holiday Inn in Carteret before going to the parking lot.

"We fathom they came off the turnpike ... so in all likelihood they simply stopped, checked into the Holiday Inn and wound up going throughout Carteret looking for drug activity," the mayor said.

Both the mayor and the police chief declined to say whether jewelry taken from the Gregg home had been found in the car or at the hotel. Prosecutors in New Jersey said the charges against both men included receiving stolen property.

In Fairfax County, Va., Police Chief Tom Manger said Thursday that he expected the two suspects to be charged with abduction, robbery and burglary.

Gregg, 52, said she had been sitting in her kitchen after returning home from shopping when she was confronted by two men who demanded cash. They tied her facedown on the kitchen floor and searched the house for valuables, taking $50 from her wallet, a ring and golf clubs.

"One man was saying to the other man, 'I don't care what happens. We're going to go down. We're going to go down together and she is going to go down with us,' " the senator's wife told WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H., on Wednesday.

"One man was sitting on me, and I kept thinking: 'I need to get out of this house.' And I said, 'The only way I can get you money is if we go to the bank.' "

In the TV interview, Gregg said the intruders tied her after she tried to run to the front door.

She said that during the trip to the bank, one of the robbers held a knife to her throat; while inside the bank, a knife was held at her side.

"I told the teller how much money I wanted, and she gave me half of it," Gregg told WMUR. "And I gave it to the gentleman, and he started to talk to me like we knew each other."

The senator's wife said she managed to escape after handing the robber the money by running down a hallway at the bank and locking herself in a closet. She was not injured.

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