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‘Victim’ in kidnapping ‘very, very sorry’ about false report

Posted: October 20, 2011 4:48 p.m.
Updated: October 21, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Camden Police Department (CPD) formally charged Tionese Denise Alexander, 39, Wednesday after arresting her Tuesday for filing a false police report of a felony. Alexander originally claimed she was kidnapped Oct. 15 at gunpoint from the May Plant Credit Union’s (MPCU) ATM by a man with a gun and forced to start drive to North Carolina.

CPD Chief Joe Floyd said Alexander wrote out a confession Wednesday afternoon admitting she made up the whole story.

“She changed her story during several interviews, one of which she said she wasn’t kidnapped, but that there was a male subject who traveled with her, which was still inconsistent with our investigation,” Floyd said Thursday afternoon.

Floyd said that in her written statement, Alexander confessed she left home the morning of Oct. 15, telling one of her children she was going to the bank. Instead, Floyd said, she started driving to North Carolina by herself.

Alexander originally claimed she was kidnapped Saturday morning from a May Plant Credit Union (MPCU) ATM on Mill Street in Camden. She claimed a man with a gun got into her truck and forced her to begin driving to Washington State. Alexander called her mother at one point saying she was being kidnapped and then hung up the phone, later claiming her kidnapper had taken it away and shut it closed.

According to Floyd’s recounting of Alexander’s confession, she now admits she drove to Columbia and got on I-26 toward Spartanburg, eventually ending up in North Carolina. Sometime after crossing the state line, she called her mother in Camden.

“‘I thought she would care and be worried about me,’” Floyd read; he said Alexander indicated she did intend to drive across the country to Washington.

Continuing on I-26, Floyd said, Alexander headed west on I-40 outside Asheville, N.C., but then realized she didn’t have enough money to make it to Washington. Floyd said Alexander confessed to getting off I-40 in Canton, N.C., about 15 minutes away, and turning back to Asheville and I-26 southbound.

Alexander stopped at a rest area on I-26 near Fletcher, N.C., about 10 miles north of Hendersonville, N.C. By then, Floyd said, law enforcement had triangulated on Alexander’s cell phone.

“‘The next thing I know, I’m surrounded by police,’” Floyd read. “A trooper approached her and asked her if she’d been kidnapped, and she said ‘yes.’”

Floyd said the Henderson County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office has decided not to pursue charges against Alexander, despite being involved in a subsequent manhunt for Alexander’s alleged kidnapper along with the Fletcher (N.C.) Police Department and North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP). He said the NCSHP may still want to pursue charges because it used helicopters and bloodhounds in an effort to locate Alexander’s non-existent kidnapper.

CPD investigators interrogated Alexander Tuesday afternoon for approximately three hours and then arrested her. At that point, Floyd said, she admitted to lying about the kidnapping, but still claimed a man was with her. He said Alexander claimed at that point that she and the man were going to Washington together. In one version of her story, Alexander said when they got to North Carolina, the man said he wanted to commit a robbery. That is why, she claimed, he had a gun.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Floyd theorized that Alexander and her partner may have been planning to make their way across the country by committing robberies.

But, CPD Lt. Herbie Frasier said, no one -- including members of law enforcement -- saw anyone run away from Alexander’s truck.

Investigators brought Alexander back to CPD headquarters Wednesday afternoon where she finally admitted there was no man and, therefore, no gun.

“The reality is, when this story came, it had a negative impact on MPCU -- that their ATM was not necessarily a safe place to go. With the outcome of their not having been a crime, we can say it is a safe location, well-lit with a large number of security cameras both inside and out,” Floyd said.

In fact, he said, MPCU’s quick assistance in providing security tapes and ATM records put investigators on track to finding out the truth.

Why did Alexander lie?

Floyd said Alexander wrote in her confession that she left Camden because of pressure with bills and not having enough money to pay them. He theorized that Alexander felt she had to get away for awhile.

“But I think a light finally came on and she realized she couldn’t do it,” Floyd said, adding that Alexander may have been seeking sympathy. “She’s got five kids and her situation is that she works part time. Also, we don’t know what the interaction between her and her mother was like. I’m not trying to make excuses, but trying to get inside her head.”

Earlier this week, the CPD released a sketch drawn by a S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) artist of the “kidnapper” Alexander described. Floyd said while she may have been randomly picking features, the SLED artist indicated it may have been based on someone she knew.

Frasier said Alexander’s bond was set at the Kershaw County Detention Center at $1,000. Alexander could face up to five years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine plus court costs. Restitution is a possibility as well.

“We put a lot of man-hours into this case, but we’ve not done an accounting as of yet,” Floyd said, adding that the NCSHP may want to seek restitution as well.

Detention Center records indicated Alexander still in custody as of Thursday afternoon.

Floyd said Alexander concluded her confession with an apology.

“‘I’m very, very sorry for putting everyone involved through this.’”

 

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