Kidnapping of Ripken's mother is puzzling

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ABERDEEN, Md. — The curious circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and then release of Cal Ripken Jr.’s 74-year-old mother are all the talk of her community outside Baltimore, where such crime doesn’t happen.

Television crews are set up outside the Aberdeen, Md. home of 74-year-old Vi Ripken, the mother Cal Ripken Jr. She was kidnapped and then released after one day.  ALEX DOMINGUEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALEX DOMINGUEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Television crews are set up outside the Aberdeen, Md. home of 74-year-old Vi Ripken, the mother Cal Ripken Jr. She was kidnapped and then released after one day.

Vi Ripken was found bound but unharmed in her car Wednesday morning, a day after being abducted at gunpoint at her house, blindfolded and driven around by her kidnapper, police said. He left her in her silver Lincoln Continental near her house in Aberdeen. She was tied up, but unharmed.

She described him as a tall, thin white man with glasses wearing camouflage clothing, but police had few other details and didn’t give a motive Thursday, though they did release photos of the suspect.

Ripken told a neighbor that her kidnapper didn’t seem to know her son is the Hall of Fame infielder with the nickname “Iron Man” for playing in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles.

Investigators said the kidnapping was peculiar, especially since there was no ransom demand. It was also unclear whether the abductor, who has not been found, has any ties to the Ripken family.

“What makes this more unusual is that we’re not sure whether this was a (classic) kidnapping, per se, or what it was – which is part of what the investigation is,” said Rich Wolf, an FBI spokesman.

Police spokesman Lt. Fred Budnick could not explain how the man could have driven back into the neighborhood to drop off Ripken in her car at the same time officers were already in the area investigating.

“I think you have to remember we weren’t sure what we were dealing with,” Budnick said. “We were thinking we had a crime scene that we were looking at, and we had officers in that area, but I don’t think it was that strange that he was able to get in there.”

“It’s just an unusual situation that we’re running into with this,” Wolf said.

Police released photos of the suspect but refused to say where they were taken. They appear to be frames from surveillance video at a store.

Police describe the suspect as a white man about 5-foot10, weighing 180 pounds, with short brown hair and glasses. A reward of up to $2,000 is available for tips that lead to a conviction.

Neighbor Gus Kowalewski said he spoke with Vi Ripken and she told him the gunman said he wouldn’t hurt her. He also lit her cigarettes for her and they stopped for food, he said.


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