STUART, Iowa (CBS Local) — A New York woman missing since mid-July has been found safe at a convenience store in rural Iowa.
Police said Amber Garrison, 26, of Smyrna, New York, was taken from a Pennsylvania truck stop, assaulted and held captive for six weeks by a truck driver she meet on a dating app.
According to investigators, the pair were waylaid off Interstate 80 in Stuart, Iowa, for two weeks because the suspect had issues with his driver’s license.
Garrison made multiple 911 calls from the truck’s cab Saturday morning, but police could not find her, CBS affiliate KCCI reported. Finally, just before 12:45 p.m., police located her from a 911 call she made at a Casey’s General Store.
Stuart PD Chief David Reha says a NY woman, 26yo Amber Garrison, that officials believe was kidnapped in PA and ended up at the Stuart @caseysgenstore, says she met her accused captor on a dating app consensually. That’s when things went wrong. https://t.co/tWaaETb74Y @KCCINews pic.twitter.com/okITBKX5Wu
— Chris Gothner KCCI (@CGothnerKCCI) September 3, 2019
“It was definitely something that she had a reason to be afraid, and it took a lot of courage to come forward to even just report it,” Stuart Police Chief David Reha said.
Garrison suffered multiple injuries but is doing well, Reha said. He said the case highlights the potential danger of online dating.
“[People] definitely need to be careful,” he said. “Don’t get in vehicles of people that you’re not aware of or you don’t know. Let people know where you’re going, who you’re meeting. It is common, but it can turn out badly.”
James Smith, 32, of Mexico, New York, was arrested and faces several charges including first degree kidnapping and domestic assault with a weapon.
He’s being held in the Adair County Jail on more than $1 million bond.