On Friday evening, two young girls playing in Washington Heights’ J. Hood Wright Park called 911 after they saw a man force a screaming woman and her male companion into a dark minivan at gunpoint. Police responding to the report found several other people who witnessed parts of the abduction, but what exactly happened remains unclear. One witness, Jonethan Salas, said that he saw two men — one wearing a plastic bag over his head and another wearing a mask — running around the corner of West 173rd Street and Haven Avenue followed by the speeding van, which had its doors open. (That portion of the incident was recorded by a surveillance camera.) “It was a Chrysler, it was like a navy blue Chrysler, it turned down the one way, it pulled over and it stopped, and a couple of guys came out and picked up a girl and pushed her in the car.” Another witness, Suzana Trejos, said that while the woman yelled when the van pulled up, the pair “just walked in” to the vehicle “like they knew who’s [sic] car they was going into.”
Investigators are having a particularly tough time with the case because nobody has been reported missing in the area. Sources told the New York Post that the “nervous looking” couple was captured by security video on Haven Avenue and West 173rd Street right before the incident. The woman is said to have been lugging two big bags “strapped around her like a bandolier.” The NYPD has since blanketed the area with posters requesting information about the identities of both the suspects and the victims, and the cops are searching the park for clues. “It’s very possible the abductors took their stuff and dropped them off nearby and [they] took the loss,” explained one source, who said that investigators think that the woman may have been carrying drugs. “Or we have two bodies somewhere.”
Update, 12:51 a.m.: The abduction “may have been a hoax staged among friends to celebrate one of their birthdays,” police spokesman J. Paul Browne tells The Times. What an odd way to celebrate.