UPDATE: The FBI has released new surveillance video of the person of interest from the day of the kidnapping. READ THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS AND WATCH THE NEW VIDEO HERE.
The search for a young woman violently abducted off a Philadelphia street has expanded to two states as officials release new images of a person of interest and federal agents throw additional resources behind finding her and the kidnapper.
Federal agents collected evidence from several businesses right off Interstate 95 in Aberdeen, Maryland on Tuesday after learning that Carlesha Freeland-Gaither's ATM card was used at a bank there.
Surveillance cameras captured a man, similar in description to the young woman's abductor, using the PNC Bank ATM at 6:01 a.m. Monday. That's less than 8 hours after the kidnapping and some 70 miles from the scene in Philadelphia.
Minutes later, the same man, dressed in a black jacket and hooded sweatshirt, was seen buying a drink at a nearby Shell gas station. FBI agents dusted for prints and released some of the clearest surveillance video yet of the man they're calling a person of interest in the case.
They're the first new clues investigators have found since the 22-year-old nurse’s aide was forced into a gray metallic Ford Taurus in the Germantown section of Philadelphia late Sunday.
She tried to fight off the 5-foot-10-inch tall man with a medium-heavyset build, but was unable. Once inside the car, she kicked or punched out the car's rear windows in an attempt to escape, witnesses told NBC10.
"We ask the public if anyone saw a vehicle matching this description in the area to contact Northwest Detectives," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Dennis Wilson said. None of the witnesses were able to get a license plate number for the kidnapper's car.
Investigators are scouring the neighborhood for additional surveillance video in the direction the car came from and may have fled.
Late Tuesday, detectives released a second surveillance video of the abduction showing another angle of the attack. In the video, Freeland-Gaither is approached by the man and stops before he lunges at her. She's then pushed out of the camera's view.
This new video also has audio with it, which police did not release. Wilson said that based on the audio and video, there's no indication that the woman knew her attacker.
Christian Zajac, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office, said the agency is trying to enhance the surveillance video to garner additional leads.
“We’re leveraging all available resources,” he said.
The agency also helped sweeten the pot for those who may have information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of Freeland-Gaither’s abductor. The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward. The Citizens Crime Commission threw $2,000 into the pile and the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union added $5,00, bringing the total reward to $47,000.
Freeland-Gaither lived in California, Maryland for several years, with her grandmother, and attended high school there before returning to Philadelphia two years ago. Two months ago, she moved out of her grandfather's house. She now works with cancer patients at Penn Presbyterian Hospital in University City, her grandmother told NBC10.
Police have interviewed a number of witnesses, as well as Freeland-Gaither's current boyfriend. No one has been named a suspect. The woman's grandmother, Ana Mulero, has raised suspicions about a man who she said romantically pursued her granddaughter. Police have not commented on these claims.
Wilson said detectives are not sure whether Freeland-Gaither is still in Philadelphia or in another state.
As police search for Freeland-Gaither, the woman’s family made a public plea for the kidnapper to return her safely.
“Please give me back my child. Please give me my baby,” the woman’s mother, Keisha Gaither, struggled to say as tears poured from her eyes.
“I want her to know, ‘I love you,’” she said, speaking to the missing woman. “All you got to do is just get out. Just come home.”
Asked whether they believe their daughter is still safe, her mother defiantly responded “I know she is.”
Philadelphia Police are asking anyone with information to call their tip line at 215.686.TIPS.
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