Police attributed to quick thinking an Augusta woman’s escape from a man who kidnapped her and her 2-year-old from a downtown gas station Wednesday evening.
Iguana Mills, 29, had just pulled into her driveway on Tuttle Street when she saw a woman stop a 1992 Chevrolet S-10 pickup partially in her driveway and scream for help.
“I got a little closer to look in the truck. and she said, ‘Take my baby,’ ” Mills said.
Police said the driver, 19-year-old Ashley Nay, of Augusta, had been forced to drive her vehicle after a man kidnapped her and her daughter at knifepoint from the Kangaroo convenience store at 15th and Jones streets about 10:45 p.m. Police said the kidnapper placed the knife at the mother’s and child’s throats, threatening to kill them if the woman did not cooperate. The kidnapper then tried to sexually assault her while she drove.
When Nay saw Mills, she took the opportunity to yell for help.
“You have to think of her (Nay’s) reaction, knowing she was not in a good situation and taking the only opportunity she had to get somebody’s attention,” said Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles.
Mills said the suspect, identified as 42-year-old Leonard Sapp, who is homeless, was beating Nay in the face when she approached the vehicle. Mills pleaded for Sapp to stop, but he instructed her to take the baby and leave.
When Mills pulled the child from the vehicle, there was a knife between the toddler’s legs.
After helping the child, Mills said, she was able to help pull Nay from the vehicle.
Sapp attempted to flee in the truck but immediately wrecked into a parked vehicle around the corner on Hicks Street.
Ernest Streetman, 28, and Marcus Taylor, 26, said they were inside their home when they heard the crash. As soon as they saw a man trying to flee they knew he was up to no good.
“He was asking for help but we already knew what the game plan was,” Streetman said. “He was going to run.”
The two men and a woman, Amanda Hendrickson, 19, chased Sapp into an open field across the street, where they held him until police arrive.
“He wasn’t getting anywhere on my watch,” Taylor said.
In the five minutes it took for officers to arrive, Taylor said, Sapp tried to persuade them to let him go.
Later, they learned the details about what had happened to Nay and her daughter.
“If I had known that (when we caught him), I probably would have beaten the mess out of him,” Streetman said.
Sapp was booked into the Richmond County jail on charges of carjacking, possession of a knife during the commission of a crime, criminal attempt rape and two counts of kidnapping.
Investigators said Sapp has an extensive arrest history, with convictions including burglary and criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.
“If he had gotten away, the odds are he would have done this again,” Peebles said. “She (Nay) saved her own life with their help, and they helped keep anybody else from getting hurt in the future.”