Kidnap victim rescued in Gulfport; ex-boyfriend in custody

About six hours after being kidnapped from her home, a Baton Rouge woman and her kidnapper were found 120 miles away in Mississippi, ending the daylong nightmare.

Police and FBI agents in Gulfport arrested Jeremiah Rodriguez, 34, late Monday afternoon and rescued Viscaacuba James, 33, who was said to be in good health, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Rodriguez was arrested without incident, Hicks said.

Rodriguez, whose last known address is in New Orleans, will be extradited to Baton Rouge, where he will be booked into Parish Prison on counts of aggravated burglary, false imprisonment and kidnapping, Hicks said.

The ordeal began early Monday when Rodriguez, James’ ex-boyfriend, broke into her home in the 1800 block of Stafford Drive, off Perkins Road near Siegen Lane, through one of the doors, Hicks said.

He held James, her three children — all minors — and her two cousins, one of whom is under 18 years old, at gunpoint for several hours, Hicks said. None of the children or cousins was harmed during their captivity.

About noon, Rodriguez grabbed James, forced her into a vehicle and left the home, Hicks said. Investigators originally theorized Rodriguez would head toward New Orleans in the silver 2001 Chrysler Concorde.

Neighbors said James lived in her home for about six months and that she was renting it. Outside of that, they did not know much about her.

However, this was not the first time deputies responded to that home for a domestic incident.

Rodriguez was arrested Jan. 3 after one of James’ daughters called 911 and said Rodriguez punched her mother in the stomach, according to the affidavit of probable cause from that arrest.

Despite James’ pleas that Rodriguez never laid a hand on her and Rodriguez saying their argument never turned physical, deputies arrested Rodriguez on misdemeanor domestic abuse battery, child endangerment and misdemeanor possession of marijuana after finding 1.5 grams of marijuana beside the bed, the affidavit says.

The arresting deputy notes in the affidavit that Rodriguez said, “I know they didn’t see me fight her (the victim), because I shut the door before I did anything.”

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office never filed charges against Rodriguez because James repeatedly told them nothing happened, and there was no evidence other than the statements of the children.

“She denied being struck and there was no sign that she was ever struck,” Moore said.

He added that Rodriguez was booked on counts of felony possession of marijuana, but the amount of marijuana found amounted to only a misdemeanor.

Moore said it is not unusual for domestic violence victims to refuse to cooperate with police or to change their story once police arrive — even if the victim called them.

“It is typical of many of the cases we have here and these become very frustrating,” Moore said. “Something occurs and even while on the scene, the victim refuses to cooperate.”