Court records reveal details of BR kidnapping ordeal _lowres

Jeremiah Rodriguez

When Jeremiah Rodriguez kicked in the carport door at his ex-girlfriend’s Stafford Drive house early Monday, he fought with two cousins before pulling out a handgun and herding the three adults and three children in the house into a back bedroom, the arrest warrant shows.

He wrapped yellow cords around their hands and placed tape over their mouths, according to the warrant and other documents that reveal new details of the ordeal that ended with Rodriguez in the Harrison County Adult Detention Center, in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Viscaacuba James back home with her family.

Rodriguez, 34, who has a prior kidnapping conviction in Jefferson Parish, is accused in Monday’s incident of kidnapping James from her home about noon and driving east before authorities arrested him in the Gulf Coast city.

The arrest warrant indicates that after binding his hostages, Rodriguez left the home briefly, though it is unclear why. When he returned, he gathered the six hostages, removed the cords and tape and walked them to the kitchen.

Then he walked James’ three daughters — all minors — and two cousins, one of whom is under 18 years old, back to the bedroom, the warrant says. With them in the bedroom, Rodriguez forced James, 33, at gunpoint into his car and left the home.

Once Rodriguez and James left, someone called 911, and first responders arrived to find the five hostages inside, all unharmed.

A member of the Sheriff’s Office Task Force alerted the FBI at 12:15 p.m., according to a probable cause complaint filed in federal district court in Baton Rouge. The deputy also called the State Police Fusion Center with the license plate number of the 2001 Chrysler Concord that Rodriguez was believed to have been driving. The number was entered into the interstate license plate recognition system.

About an hour later, the Fusion Center tracked the license plate on Interstate 12 near Covington, according to the federal complaint. At 2:30 p.m., the car was again tracked passing the Slidell exit on I-12.

At this point, sheriff’s deputies learned the cellphone numbers for both Rodriguez and James and requested cellular provider T-Mobile to “ping” the phones to determine their locations.

Rodriguez’s cellphone pinged in Gulfport at 4:38 p.m. FBI agents in Baton Rouge contacted their Gulfport office and emailed them a copy of the arrest warrant.

At about 6 p.m., authorities in Baton Rouge got the phone call that Rodriguez had been taken into custody.

Police and FBI agents found the two in the parking lot of a RaceWay gas station at 9151 U.S. 49 in Gulfport. The investigators found in Rodriguez’s pocket a loaded Beretta .40-caliber handgun with one round in the chamber and five in the magazine, as well as a razor blade and twine, the federal complaint says.

James was said to be in good health at the time of her rescue. Attempts to reach to her at her home Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Jail records in Harrison County show Rodriguez is being held without bail as officials begin extradition proceedings. A hold has been placed on him and he will not be released before being returned to Baton Rouge.

Officials expect Rodriguez, whose last known address is in New Orleans, to be extradited in the next few days.

Once he returns, he will be booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on counts of aggravated burglary, false imprisonment and second-degree kidnapping.

U.S. Attorney Walt Green said his office is prepared to arrest Rodriguez on federal counts of kidnapping, using a firearm in a violent crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The felon in possession count comes from a 2000 kidnapping and armed robbery that Rodriguez pleaded guilty to in Jefferson Parish.

On March 3, 2000, Rodriguez kidnapped and robbed another woman, Jefferson Parish criminal court records show.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping and armed robbery, after initially pleading not guilty, and was sentenced to 10 years hard labor on July 24, 2001.

The Jefferson Parish court records do not indicate how much of the sentence he served.