UPDATE: Suspect jailed, victim located safe after Amber Alert prompts flood of tips
Katie Workman, KSL.com
Published at | Updated at
SALT LAKE CITY — The suspect in an abduction caught on camera that prompted an Amber Alert Saturday morning has been booked into Salt Lake County Jail. The victim received precautionary medical treatment after a flood of tips helped police locate them both, authorities say.
South Salt Lake held a press conference at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, where they offered new updates on the case. They said both parties were interviewed by investigators.
The suspect was identified by police as Carl Gravitt, 22. He was booked into jail under suspicion of kidnapping, assault, receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Gravitt did not have a weapon when he was taken into police custody.
The victim was not immediately identified. However, South Salt Lake police public information officer Danielle Croyle noted that the woman, whom investigators originally believed was a teenager because of her small frame — 5 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing 86 pounds — was actually born in 1985.
The kidnapping is now considered to be domestic-violence related, Croyle said.
Police began investigating the abduction after receiving a call at 10:28 p.m. Friday. Video surveillance of the parking lot of the Miniature Market convenience store, 310 E. 3300 South, shows the woman being taken against her will.
The video first shows a 1990 red Nissan Pathfinder with two doors, a sunroof, and a tire on its back hatch pull into the parking lot of the mini-mart. As a man police say is Gravitt gets out of Pathfinder and walks toward the store, the woman runs out of the car and to another store customer. The woman appears to be trying to hide or get away by crawling beneath a truck getting gas, police said in a news release.
The man runs after her, grabs her from beneath the truck, and lifts her over his shoulder as she is “kicking and thrashing about, trying to break free,” police said. The woman was heard crying out, “Help me, please help me,” police added.
The man puts the woman into his vehicle and drives away.
When police responded to the scene, they discovered a single size 3 shoe that belonged to the victim, Croyle said. Due to the small shoe size and eyewitness accounts of her small stature, she said investigators believed her to be 16-years-old.
Without identifying information on the victim and confirmation of her age, police were unable to immediately send out an Amber Alert, Croyle explained during the press conference. However, they immediately sent out an endangered missing person alert.
Croyle said police received special permission to send the Amber Alert later Saturday morning due to the high probability of immediate danger to the victim.
“When it went out, we received multiple tips from the community they were helpful,” Croyle said. “We even had family members calling in to identify who the perpetrator was in that video.”
Tips helped police identify the red Pathfinder the two were in as recently stolen, and another tip led police to a location in West Valley City where they found the victim and alleged perpetrator, Croyle said. Both Gravitt and the woman were still in the stolen car, she said.
Police interviewed multiple bystanders in the parking lot of the Miniature Market who helped police, but authorities are still looking to follow up with others who were at the scene, Croyle said.
Asked what to do if you witness a violent crime like this one, Croyle said, “You have to go with what you feel comfortable doing.” She noted that many bystanders deal with a fight, flight or freeze response, and that bystanders have to make a decision when witnessing violence on whether they want to put themselves in harm’s way.
Whether or not bystanders intervene, bystanders are still capable of helping investigations, Croyle said.
“Please call police. Please help us get a license plate number. Please help us get a good description of the suspect or the victim in these types of cases so we can have some leads,” she said.
“We have somebody in custody that is violent — that took somebody against their will — in custody because of the support of the media, the support of the community,” Croyle said.