Having watched far too many documentaries and movies about kidnap, I have always thought that I’d know exactly what to do if I ever found myself in a situation where my life was under threat. My father isn’t exactly Liam Neeson, so a Taken scenario isn’t plausible, my mom would probably have a meltdown similar to that of Joyce Byers in Stranger Things if I ever went missing.
So really, it would be entirely down to me – and hopefully the police – to escape. It’s a situation that I know haunts most people and thus, one that has been played out in millions of minds. But, until you’re living your worst nightmare it is hard to know how you would handle yourself. Would you completely fall to pieces? Or, would you be able to come up with a crafty plan like 19-year-old college student Jaila Gladden, who managed to fool her kidnapper earlier this year after he hijacked her car in a parking lot… The University of West Georgia student found herself in extreme peril after a man abducted her, using her own vehicle, in a parking lot in Carrollton, Georgia on September 4, 2017. The 19-year-old had been innocently walking towards her vehicle when a man she didn’t recognize approached her and asked for a lighter. Unable to assist, Gladden continued to walk on. The next thing she knew, a knife was being pushed against her by the same man who demanded that she get into her car.
A terrified Gladden complied, sliding across to the passenger seat so that her kidnapper – a man later identified as Timothy Walton – could be at the wheel. The man then drove to an abandoned church where he parked up and demanded that Gladden remove her clothes. The teen pleaded with him but he told her there was “no purpose in crying” before raping her inside the car and then proceeding to drive on. Telling her that he needed money, the man said his plan was to rob a gas station and then drive to Michigan. As a Georgia native, Gladden knew that a majority of cashier’s desks in Georgia gas stations have protective bars fitted and thus she hoped her captor would be caught out by this. But that didn’t stop her from coming up with another plan of action. Talking to her abductor, she advised that she could guide him to a gas station, but only by using the map feature on her phone. Unbelievably the man, who “never took his eyes off the road”, agreed and passed her her phone. Now armed with a device that could help save her, Gladden knew she needed to think fast. Turning the brightness down on her iPhone she was able to conceal the fact that she was sharing her location with her boyfriend. “It was the most logical thing to do,” she told BuzzFeed News matter-of-factly. When he received the ping notification, Gladden’s boyfriend, Tamir Bryant was asleep. Waking up he sleepily responded to ask her why she was in Atlanta – an hour’s drive away from where she’d been snatched. “Kid napped” she responded. “Stop playing [right now],” Bryant fired back, before adding: “I’m headed to the police station.” “I immediately realized it was serious,” Bryant told BuzzFeed News. “She would never play like that. She would never say that for no reason.” Meanwhile, her kidnapper had no idea that she was communicating with her boyfriend. Instead, he attempted to raid several stores unsuccessfully – putting Gladden in the trunk of her vehicle when he left the car – where she sent details of the attacker to her boyfriend, who by now was with the police. Unable to get the money he desperately needed, the man decided to park up in a Kroger parking lot overnight before holding up the store the next day. It was here that a police officer found Gladden’s car in the early hours of the next morning. Despite approaching cautiously the officer was spotted by the kidnapper, who immediately started up the car and attempted to flee. But, in his haste to escape the suspect crashed into the officer’s patrol car before colliding with a fence. In the ensuing chaos, Gladden was able to escape and FaceTime her boyfriend. Her attacker also fled the scene, scaling a fence and running away, but was later found and arrested 10 hours later. “I saw police lights in the background; she was running and crying,” Bryant told BuzzFeed News, of the moment he knew his girlfriend was safe. “If I didn’t get the location, who knows what would have happened,” he explained. “Her doing it on her own — she was able to outsmart the bad guy.” “He’s taken a lot away from my life and it doesn’t need to happen again. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Gladden said, referencing the need for more security cameras to be installed in parking lots. There is no doubt that Gladden’s quick thinking is the reason she is able to tell her story today. The student hopes that others can learn from her situation in the future and save themselves from any trouble. In the meantime, we are glad that Gladden is okay and able to tell her story.