RICHEYVILLE – A kind gesture extended Friday by a Richeyville man to a stranger set off a bizarre chain of events that led to the safe return of a 2-year-old West Virginia girl and the ultimate capture of the man suspected in her kidnapping earlier in the day.
Driving in his van, Jim Weid approached the kidnapping suspect, identified as Timothy Adam White, 23, along Route 40 near Weid’s home. Not knowing that White was wanted by police, Weid asked him if he needed help because he was carrying around a young girl in the cold, state police said.
“This heart told me to stop and save this baby,” Weid said, pounding his chest with his hand while talking to reporters outside his 510 Oak St. home, where the young girl was placed in the care of a Washington County Children and Youth Services employee.
Weid said the suspect, without hesitation, opened the door to his van and got inside with the girl, who began her journey that day in a 2009 Toyota Corolla when the vehicle was stolen about 11:45 a.m. at a convenience store in Preston County, W.Va.
Pennsylvania state police Cpl. Lou Reda said the stolen vehicle later was discovered by PennDOT workers along Interstate 79 in Amwell Township, Washington County.
Troopers arrived to find the vehicle parked, out of gasoline, near the Lone Pine Shed. A check of the license plate, he said, eventually identified the vehicle as the one involved in the kidnapping, he said.
It was not immediately clear how White made his way about 17 miles from Amwell to the Giant Eagle GetGo in Richeyville, where Weid first noticed him with the young girl about 1:30 p.m. Police said White may have hitchhiked a ride to the village in Centerville Borough.
“I felt bad for the kid. Something didn’t seem right,” Weid said.
He said he asked White some questions, but the man “just seemed out of it.”
Weid said he drove the two to his house and White immediately got out of his van, walked across the street and stole an Atlantic Broadband van parked outside a neighbor’s house.
The cable company employee told police he went inside that house, leaving the key in the van’s ignition and discovered it gone when he went back outside to retrieve equipment.
Reda said police used a device to locate a global positioning system inside the stolen van and soon learned it was still in the Richeyville area.
At that point, police from multiple departments surrounded the community.
A state trooper patrolling the nearby Mon-Fayette Expressway later noticed the stolen van on the toll road, initiating a police pursuit to Route 51 near Century III Mall.
White was taken into custody after the stolen van crashed into a couple police cruisers used as a larger barricade to end the pursuit in the vicinity of the mall.
He was taken to Jefferson Hospital as a precaution after refusing treatment for injuries he suffered in the crash, Reda said.
Police were making plans to hold White in the Allegheny County jail on a charge of arrest prior to requisition until state police in Washington County obtain a warrant to charge him in connection with stolen vehicle. West Virginia authorities were expected to eventually extradite White to that state to face charges in connection with the kidnapping.
State police are seeking information from anyone who may have encountered White and transported him from the Lone Pine area to Richeyville. Contact state police in Pittsburgh at 412-787-2000.