The sight of a woman tied up, screaming for help in the back seat of an SUV drew a large force of law enforcement officers to The Collections in south Forsyth on Wednesday night, authorities say.
But when officers arrived on scene and located the woman, they were told that there was no kidnapping and the whole situation was an elaborate prank, sparking outrage and a criminal investigation by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
At approximately 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, the Forsyth County 911 dispatch center began receiving multiple calls from people at The Collection who had allegedly witnessed a vehicle circling the shopping center’s parking lot, with a female visibly tied up and yelling for help in the back seat, reports state.
Callers stated that the female’s hands appeared to be bound by either handcuffs or zip ties, while her head was covered by what appeared to be a pillow case.
Reports state that the vehicle was driven by a Hispanic male and the woman was heard yelling, “He is going to kill me.”
Authorities said that eight Forsyth County patrol cars were dispatched to the scene, along with assistance from the Johns Creek Police Department and an off duty Gwinnett County Police Officer in the area.
From sightings of the vehicle’s tag numbers, officers were able track the vehicle to its registered owner, a man who allegedly told deputies that his 19-year-old daughter has taken the vehicle with his permission to do a prank.
The man stated that until he was contacted by deputies, he did not know what kind of prank she was conducting.
With the man’s help, officers were able to locate and stop the SUV in the parking lot of the John’s Creek United Methodist Church on Medlock Bridge Road.
Once stopped, the female confirmed to deputies that she was OK and allegedly stated that, “the abduction was part of a messed up social experiment … designed to solicit the public’s reaction to an active abduction,” the report states.
After the incident unfolded on Wednesday night, Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman took to Facebook, dispelling the rapidly spreading abduction rumors and venting his frustration at the situation.
“Want to know how to p-off a Sheriff,” the post stated. “Pretend a major crime has happened and cause Deputies and civilians to come in harm’s way.”
On Thursday afternoon, sheriff’s office spokesman Cpl. Doug Rainwater told the Forsyth County News that the sheriff’s office has started a criminal investigation into the incident.Rainwater said that no charges have currently been filed, but a charge for false report of a crime could be applicable for the situation.