The suspect in an on-camera abduction that resulted in an Amber Alert on Saturday morning was admitted to Salt Lake County Jail after a spate of tips from police helped locate him and the victim.
The video of the alleged kidnapping showed a woman, initially believed to be a teenager by police, trying to escape from a vehicle at a gas station, and then caught and carried away by a man trying to break free .
South Salt Lake held a press conference Saturday offering new updates on the case after investigators interviewed both parties.
The suspect was identified as Carl Gravitt, 22, by the police. He was jailed on suspicion of kidnapping, assault, acceptance or surrender of a stolen vehicle, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia, according to an affidavit with a likely cause. Gravitt did not have a weapon when he was taken into police custody.
The victim, who was not immediately identified, was given precautionary medical treatment, according to the authorities. However, South Salt Lake Police Public Information Officer Danielle Croyle found that the woman who investigators originally believed was a teenager was because of her short stature – 5 feet, 1 inch tall, and weighs 86 pounds – was actually born in 1985.
The kidnapping is now viewed as a domestic violence link, Croyle said.
Police opened the investigation into the kidnapping after receiving a call at 10:28 p.m. on Friday. The video surveillance of the parking lot of the mini market, 310 E. 3300 South, shows the woman being kidnapped against her will.
The video first shows a 1990 red Nissan Pathfinder with two doors, a sunroof and a tire on the tailgate, pulling into the mini market parking lot. As a police man says, Gravitt gets out of Pathfinder and walks towards the shop, the woman runs out of the car and to another shop customer. The woman appears to be trying to hide or escape by crawling under a truck at a gas pump, police said in a press release.
The man runs after her, grabs her from under the truck and lifts her over his shoulder while she “kicks and hits and tries to break free,” police said. The woman shouted, “Help, please help me,” added the police.
The man puts the woman in his vehicle and drives away.
South Salt Lake Police
When police responded to the scene, they discovered a single size 3 shoe that belonged to the victim, Croyle said. Due to the small size of her shoes and eyewitness accounts of her short stature, she said investigators believed she was 16 years old.
Without information about the victim and without confirmation of age, the police are unable to immediately send an Amber Alert, Croyle said during the press conference. However, they immediately sent a missing person alert.
Croyle said the police were given special permission to send the Amber Alert later on Saturday morning due to the high likelihood of imminent danger to the victim.
“When it came out, we got several tips from the community that were helpful,” said Croyle. “We even had family members calling to find out who the culprit in that video was.”
Tips helped police identify the red Pathfinder the two were in as recently stolen, and another tip led police to a location in West Valley City where they said they found the man and woman from the video Croyle. Both Gravitt and the woman were still in the stolen car, she said.
Police interviewed several passers-by in the miniature market’s parking lot who were helping police, but authorities are still looking for others who have been at the scene, Croyle said.
When asked what to do if you witness a violent crime like this, Croyle said, “You have to go with where you are comfortable.” She noted that many viewers experience fight, flight, or freeze reactions and that when viewers witness violence they must make a decision as to whether to put themselves at risk.
Whether or not bystanders intervene, they can still assist the investigation, Croyle said.
“Please call the police. Please help us to get a license plate. In such cases, please help us get a good description of the suspect or the victim so that we can have some clues, ”she said.
“We have someone in custody who is violent – who has arrested someone against their will – because of media support, community support,” said Croyle.