Abductor Picks Up Ransom; Victim Found Dead Anyway
Theresa Wiltse is in custody
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 21, 2016 4:54 PM CST
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(Newser) – A woman acknowledged kidnapping another woman and picking up a $250,000 ransom that authorities handed over in hopes of the safe return of the victim, but her body was found along a rural road in Washington state two days later, a police report said Monday. Police tailed and arrested Theresa Wiltse, 49, after she got the ransom for Sandra Harris, 69, at a gourmet grocery store Friday night, the AP reports. "Theresa confessed to being part of the kidnapping," along with two men she identified only as "Jose" and "Jesus," the report said. But her "role appears to be much bigger than she claims," police wrote, adding that blood was found in the backseat of Wiltse's vehicle and it was being analyzed. Police only have Wiltse in custody but said they were not ruling out the possibility of additional arrests.

The kidnapping was not random—Wiltse knew the victim and her husband, Randy Harris, who owns a pawn shop in the city of Kennewick called Ace Jewelry and Loan, authorities said, though exactly how they knew each other is still under investigation. Harris was kidnapped Friday from her Kennewick home, police said. Harris called her husband at work from her cellphone to say the kidnapper was demanding money, they said. The FBI joined local police in contacting the suspect and negotiating for several hours before agreeing to meet up in rural Franklin County that night to pay the ransom. Shortly afterward, a SWAT team arrested Wiltse near the tiny community of Eltopia. She was driving a rental car with California plates. A driver found Sandra Harris' body Sunday in arid scrubland along a road south of Kennewick, off Interstate 82, the Benton County Sheriff's Office said. An autopsy was scheduled later this week to determine how and when she died.
 

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