A daring escape
Wenatchee woman fights off man who attacked her and a friend
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
WENATCHEE — Even now, 25 days after the attempted kidnapping, Tracie Hartnett is surprised at what she did to get away from a man with a gun and zip ties.
The man had just zip-tied the hands of Hartnett’s friend early on the morning of Sept. 30 when something clicked in Hartnett’s mind.
“I had heard all those stories about people getting kidnapped and what happened to them and that wasn’t going to happen to me,” the 22-year-old Wenatchee woman said. “I wadded up my purse and when he turned to start zip-tying me, I turned and hit him in the face as hard as I could. He turned back at me and I hit him once more, then I dropped my purse and took off running.”
Her friend, Rhiannon Rudolph, 23, also ran away, and the two women escaped what Hartnett thinks would have been a deadly fate.
“I think he was going to put us in his car and take us to his basement as soon as he had us tied up,” she said.
Rudolph called Hartnett’s actions “amazing. She saved our lives. If she hadn’t taken that small window of opportunity, she would have been zip-tied next and we wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”
Wenatchee police this week released a sketch of the suspect. Police initially declined to release the man’s name but, after a public records request by The Wenatchee World, they said the suspect was 57-year-old Daniel Homer Brown.
His body was found in his home in the 600 block of South Franklin Street Oct. 5. The Chelan County coroner ruled that he had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The man was only identified as a suspect in the attempted kidnapping after his body was discovered. Detectives noticed a strong resemblance to the sketch of the suspect, Sgt. John Kruse with the Wenatchee Police Department said earlier this month. The drawing was made by a composite sketch artist who worked with the two women.
Officers also found a heavy-duty zip tie, which is a plastic fastener with locking ends, that was identical to the one used on the woman Sept. 30. It was found in Brown’s kitchen. Kruse said officers also found a hat that matched a description of one worn by the man from the attack. The man’s car was the same make and model as one seen near the scene of the attack. And the gun, used to commit suicide, was the same type as the one used in the attack. It was a 40-caliber, Glock semi automatic.
Kruse said Brown did not have “an extensive criminal history” but he was someone that police had contacted in the past when relatives asked for a welfare check.
“We have no idea why he would do this or what he would do with the women if he was successful in doing this,” Kruse said earlier this month.
The attempted kidnapping happened in the 500 block of South Wenatchee Avenue about 1:30 a.m. Sept. 30. Hartnett and her friend had just finished celebrating a friend’s birthday at Wally’s Tavern, 322 S. Wenatchee Ave., and were walking south on that street when a man stepped out from behind a building.
“He had a gun out already and he kept telling us to shut the f.... up, and get the f.... behind the building,” Harnett said. She dropped her cell phone at the man’s command.
Hartnett recalled thinking that the man, who was overweight with a “huge belly” and had long hair and a white beard, looked like Santa Claus, “only dirty.”
“At first, it seemed like some sick joke and that he was going to scare us and let us go,” she said. “You’d never think a man who looks like Santa Claus is going to hold a gun to you and try to kidnap you.”
The man ordered the women to go behind a building and told them to face the building and put their hands behind their backs.
“We didn’t see the zip ties or anything,” Hartnett said. “We just saw the gun and we were going to do what he was saying because we were so afraid.”
Still, Hartnett struck the man twice with her purse and the two women ran off down the street. Hartnett remembers stooping down to pick up her phone as she ran, and she began calling 911.
“I just couldn’t believe that he hadn’t shot us,” she said. “I thought for sure we were going to die. There was no doubt in my mind that, as soon as I hit him and started running, that he was going to shoot me.”
The two women ran back toward the tavern and found a friend who untied Rudolph. By the time police arrived, the suspect was gone.
“I was terrified he was going to find us, or we’d see him somewhere and he would recognize us,” Hartnett said.
Even after police told them the suspect was dead earlier this month, the women say, they still feel spooked.
“I won’t walk anywhere anymore,” Hartnett said. “It’s hard for me to even go from my house to my car or my car into work. I’m terrified to go anywhere, especially alone.”
“I don’t like being out at night by myself too much anymore,” Rudolph said.
The petite Hartnett, who stands 5 foot 3 and weighs 135 pounds, draws strength from knowing she did the right thing when she fought back.
“I’m shocked in myself that I had the courage in myself to hit him when he had a gun on me,” Hartnett said. “I don’t know where that came from.”
Dee Riggs: 664-7147
MORE LIKE THIS
Sunday, May 19
Wenatchee Women's Show
Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee, 1 p.m.
Sunday, May 19
Local Author H.S. Clark is Signing His New Thriller at Hastings in Wenatchee
Hastings Entertainment, 315 9th St., Wenatchee, WA, 1 p.m.
Monday, May 20
Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking - Toastmasters Meeting
First United Methodist Church, 5:30 p.m.
Monday, May 20
Wenatchee Fire FC Tryouts
Sunnyslope Elementary School, 5:30 p.m.