A man was arrested this month in New Jersey after he allegedly kidnapped a woman almost a year before in New Mexico.
N.J. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced in a news release that James W. Parrillo Jr., 57, is facing multiple charges after the woman, whose identity has been withheld for her safety, escaped and fled to a nearby gas station in Burlington County.
Parillo is charged with first-degree kidnapping, second-degree strangulation and aggravated assault, and third-degree criminal restraint, as well as third-degree hindering apprehension and fourth-degree obstruction and refusing to provide a DNA sample.
The victim met Parillo, whom she knew as Brett Parker, in February 2022 at a gas station in N.M., where she agreed to give him a ride to Arizona.
She said they were in a consensual relationship for the first month, until he assaulted her when they were in California, at which point she felt unsafe leaving the relationship. Parillo allegedly took away her phone and debit cards, in addition to isolating her from her family.
After arriving in New Jersey in December and renting a room in Bass River Township, the victim noticed an interior deadbolt at the nearby gas station and planned to flee there when she had the chance. She made her escape one night after he allegedly began beating and choking her, according to authorities.
The victim ran to the gas station in 42-degree weather in nothing but shorts and a shirt, before bolting the door and telling the attendant she had been held against her will for roughly the past year.
Surveillance footage shared by WCAU shows the woman, whose face was concealed, running into the gas station, locking the door and holding it shut as her alleged captor follows her to the door and leaves after realizing it’s locked.
Jamie Garthaus, the gas station employee who helped the woman to safety and called the cops, recounted the harrowing ordeal to WCAU, explaining she “could see the thumbprint” from the choke marks around the victim’s neck.
“And then the guy was chasing behind her,” she recalled. “As they were running, he was like, ‘You don’t want to do this, you don’t want to do this.’ And then, she came in and slammed the door.
“He then tried to come in the door, but not really aggressively. I think he knew his jig was up. And then, he drove by again on his bicycle,” added Garthaus.
A.G. Platkin said in the news release: “This is a deeply disturbing case in which the defendant allegedly held a woman against her will for nearly a year, while traveling with her throughout the country, before ending up here in New Jersey where she was able to escape.”
Col. Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, praised the victim for her “strength and bravery,” which he said “is nothing short of heroic.”
Parillo has been detained at Burlington County Jail ahead of his pre-trial hearing on Wednesday. He faces a combined sentence of up to nearly 47 years in prison and a fine of up to $475,000.
Assistant Attorney General Theresa Hilton requested Parillo not be granted bail out of caution for public safety, as online information leads investigators to believe he “may have engaged in similar predatory conduct with individuals in other states.”
“We are reaching out to law enforcement across jurisdictions to identify other people who may have additional information on the defendant,” added Platkin. “Our investigation is ongoing and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure we bring justice to this survivor.”