Kidnapping victim thwarts abductor by passing note at Arizona gas station

Aug 24, 2023, 12:55 PM

Booking photo of Jacob Wilhoit, who is accused of kidnapping a woman from a Phoenix-area car dealer...

Jacob Wilhoit is accused of kidnapping a woman from a Phoenix-area car dealership on Aug. 21, 2023. He was arrested the next day. (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Photo)

(Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX – A woman who was kidnapped from the Phoenix area thwarted her assailant by passing a note to a customer at a northern Arizona gas station, authorities said Thursday.

The suspect, 41-year-old Jacob Wilhoit, allegedly wore a wig and pretended to be an Uber driver while abducting the woman from a Valley car dealership around 7 a.m. Monday, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

Wilhoit is accused of restraining his victim and driving to Las Vegas before they spent a night at a Lake Mead park, YCSO said.

Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, they stopped at a Chevron station in Seligman, off Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Kingman. While there, the victim passed a note telling a customer what was happening. The note included the victim’s name and a request to call 911, which the customer did.

After YCSO responded to the gas station, the customer gave deputies descriptions of what the suspect and victim were wearing and said they were heading west in a van on I-40.

YCSO alerted the Arizona Department of Public Safety, who found the van on the freeway a few miles west of Seligman and detained Wilhoit and the woman. Multiple guns were found in the vehicle, YCSO said.

Meanwhile, dispatchers learned that the victim had been reported missing by her mother and listed as endangered. The entry mentioned Wilhoit as a person of interest, but YCSO didn’t say whether the suspect and victim knew each other before the incident.

Wilhoit was arrested and booked into jail on multiple counts, including kidnapping, harassment and aggravated assault, YCSO said.

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Kidnapping victim thwarts abductor by passing note at Arizona gas station