Suspect captured in kidnapping that ended in Berks

Feb. 21—A kidnapped woman's harrowing 75-mile ordeal may have ended when she silently signaled to troopers from the back seat of a pickup truck that was stopped for driving erratically on Route 61 in northern Berks County, but the investigation was just beginning, state police said.

Troopers from Berks and Luzerne counties worked with western New York authorities to identify the driver of the rental pickup truck who sped off from the traffic stop just before midnight Feb. 11 in Perry Township, near Hamburg., after a trooper freed the victim.

New York authorities last week captured the suspect in Buffalo after tracking the truck to a shopping center there.

Michael Grimm, 43, whose last known address is in Spencerport, N.Y., is being held pending extradition to Pennsylvania. State police in Wilkes-Barre charged Grimm with kidnapping to facilitate a felony, robbery, access device fraud and theft-related counts.

According to investigators:

On Feb. 10 about 6 p.m. troopers from the Wilkes-Barre station were dispatched to Plymouth Township, Luzerne County. The victim's husband was waving down motorists along North Mill Street near Lamoreaux Street, saying his wife had been abducted.

Troopers took the man back to the station to be interviewed. He said he and his wife met the suspect in a motel outside of Rochester, N.Y. They paid Grimm $300 to drive them from Rochester to Reading.

Grimm, who it was later learned was driving a 2021 Dodge RAM pickup truck that he rented in his mother's name using her credit card without her knowledge, picked them up around noon that day, with an unidentified woman in the front passenger seat.

The victim's husband described the woman as a drug addict. He said that shortly after they traveled into Pennsylvania, the unidentified woman appeared to be having a medical issue.

Grimm stopped the truck, and the woman in the front passenger seat got out. Grimm asked the victim's husband to get out and help her out.

Soon after he left the back seat, the truck sped off with his wife in the back seat. The other woman somehow returned to the vehicle, leaving the husband of the victim alone by the side of the road.

Just before midnight, Troopers John Reiter and Travis Rutt from the Hamburg station stopped the Dodge Ram, which had an Ohio license plate, after seeing the truck being driven erratically.

While troopers were conversing with the driver, they noticed the victim silently asking troopers to help her.

As soon as the trooper took her out of the vehicle, Grimm sped off and evaded police.

The victim told troopers that she asked Grimm to stop as he drove off near Wilkes-Barre leaving her husband by the side of the road. She said Grimm told the unidentified female passenger to point a gun at her.

They forced her to provide her bank card and withdraw money at several locations along the way before they were stopped by police.

The victim said about $3,000 was stolen from her during the ordeal.

On Feb. 12, troopers found security camera footage from a gas station in Wayne County, northwest of Wilkes-Barre., after the woman told them that she remembered stopping at a gas station shortly before she was kidnapped. The footage gave them a clear shot of the driver.

In the meantime, investigators with the Monroe County, N.Y., sheriff's office contacted Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, which owned the Dodge Ram truck involved in the incident.

The business listed the truck as outstanding, meaning it hadn't been returned. The renter of the vehicle was contacted, and she said her stepson had stolen her credit cards and presumably the vehicle.

Investigators obtained a photo of Grimm and matched it to the person in the gas station footage. One of the Hamburg troopers involved in the traffic stop was also shown Grimm's photo and was certain he was the driver who had fled the Route 61 traffic stop.

The female passenger has not been identified.

Trooper Ethan Brownback, a spokesman with Reading-based Troop L, said the Hamburg troopers may very well have saved the woman's life by freeing her before the abductors reached their destination, wherever that may have been.

"This could not have ended any better," he said, adding that it was uncertain what the assailants intended to do with their victim.