Police: Woman admits abduction for ransom; victim found dead

By Nicholas K. Geranios

The Associated Press

SPOKANE — A woman acknowledged kidnapping another woman and picking up a $250,000 ransom that authorities handed over in hopes of the safe return of the victim, but her body was found along a rural road in Washington state two days later, a police report said Monday.

Police tailed and arrested Theresa Wiltse, 49, after she got the ransom for Sandra Harris, 69, at a gourmet grocery store Friday night, the document said.

“Theresa confessed to being part of the kidnapping,” along with two men she identified only as “Jose” and “Jesus,” the report said.

But her “role appears to be much bigger than she claims,” police wrote, adding that blood was found in the backseat of Wiltse’s vehicle and it was being analyzed.

It was not immediately clear how Harris died, authorities said.

The kidnapping was not random — Wiltse knew the victim and her husband, Randy Harris, who owns a pawn shop in the city of Kennewick called Ace Jewelry and Loan, authorities said.

Wiltse lives in the small town of Connell about 40 miles away.

“The exact nature of how they are known to each other is still a part of this investigation,” police said in a statement.

A man who answered the phone at the pawn shop Monday said Randy Harris was not there and declined additional comment.

A driver found Sandra Harris’ body Sunday in arid scrubland along a road south of Kennewick, off Interstate 82, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office said. An autopsy was scheduled later this week to determine how and when she died.

Police only have Wiltse in custody but said they were not ruling out the possibility of additional arrests.

“But we do not have any specific persons that we are looking for,” according to police in the community about 130 miles southwest of Spokane.

Harris was kidnapped Friday from her Kennewick home, police said.

Harris called her husband at work from her cellphone to say the kidnapper was demanding money, they said.

The FBI joined local police in contacting the suspect and negotiating for several hours before agreeing to meet up in rural Franklin County that night to pay the ransom.

Shortly afterward, a SWAT team arrested Wiltse near the tiny community of Eltopia. She was driving a rental car with California plates.

Wiltse was booked on suspicion of kidnapping. It was not immediately clear if she had obtained a lawyer.

More in Crime

Port Angeles officer hurt during arrest

Sequim man charged with assault following domestic complaint

High-speed spin ends with crash into building, charges

Sequim teen charged with reckless endangerment, hit-and-run

T
Essential oils, farm equipment taken from Martha Lane Lavender

Fund looks to support family through loss

Kim Nails was one of three “smash and grab” burglaries in Sequim on Nov. 16-17. Sequim Police said they continue to investigate and believe the cases could be related. Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group
Matthew Wetherington
Matthew Wetherington sentenced to life in prison

He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder Monday

Port Angeles man sentenced in high school roof fire

A 19-year-old man whose firecracker sparked a roof fire… Continue reading

Saturday crash closes Center Road in Chimacum

A driver was arrested for drunken driving after a single-vehicle… Continue reading

Fat Smitty's restaurant in Discovery Bay has been subjected to three burglaries this year, with thieves stealing dollar bills that patrons personalize and attach to the walls and ceiling. Thursday's latest robbery is the first time law enforcement have been able to catch the suspect thieves, however it is still under investigation if Thursday's robbers are connected to the prior robberies. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)
Popular Discovery Bay eatery burgled

Suspects found with signed dollar bills after Fat Smitty’s hit

Most Read