Sometimes there are incidents that shake us to our core, leaving us questioning the state of humanity. Carlesha Gaither Freeland’s story is one such narrative. In a chilling account that captured the nation’s attention, she was abducted at knifepoint while simply trying to make her way home. Over the span of three harrowing days, she faced unspeakable terror at the hands of her captor. While many may not be familiar with the details of this incident, her courageous journey has now been transformed into a film.
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Who is Carlesha Gaither?
Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, a Philadelphia native, was employed as a nursing aide at Presbyterian Hospital when she was abducted. She lived with her boyfriend, and on the day of the incident, she had plans to meet him. It’s reported that she intended to call him so he could meet her six blocks away and walk her home.
Abducted at Knifepoint: The Carlesha Gaither story
According to the police report and as depicted in the film adaptation, on November 2, 2014, at approximately 9:40 pm ET, 22-year-old Carlesha was walking home after visiting her godson. Suddenly, Delvin Barnes appeared and forcibly pulled Carlesha into his Ford Taurus. Despite the terrifying situation, Carlesha’s mother described her as a resilient fighter. Carlesha attempted to defend herself by using a hammer found in the car to strike Barnes, but unfortunately, her efforts were unsuccessful.
At that moment, a witness named Dwayne Fletcher attempted to intervene and stop Barnes from abducting Carlesha, but unfortunately, his efforts were unsuccessful. However, he acted promptly by dialing 911 and providing all the necessary details.
While speaking to NBC10, Fletcher said, “He heard me because I was screaming, ‘Yo! You! What are you doing?! Yo, you!’ I don’t know if her screams overpowered mine, but [Barnes] was moving fast though.”
Three days later, police located Carlesha in Jessup, Maryland, and successfully rescued her, taking Barnes into custody. Major clues that aided the police in tracking her down were her strategic actions. She intentionally dropped her mobile phone and glasses and even provided the correct credit card PIN to the abductor, all of which helped authorities pinpoint her location.
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In her interview with NBC10 she said, “But the first thing when a person takes you, they ask you for any items that you have that you contact people. So I figured maybe if I just leave my phone since I’m pretty sure it was going to be taken away from me, that somebody knew I was on my way home.” She further added, “Anybody that knows me knows that I wear glasses and I wouldn’t leave them anywhere, so if somebody walked by it was evidence. DNA from my glasses and my cellphone which had my contacts.” Luckily those items were collected by Fletcher who rushed to the crime scene.
How did the police find Carlesha?
Unaware of the extensive media coverage surrounding her kidnapping and the viral video that captured her abduction, which had created a strong online demand for justice, Gaither-Freeland was found shackled within the car’s trunk. She later learned that Barnes was traveling to Virginia to see his daughter.
Barnes’ love for his daughter gave Gaither-Freeland hope despite his horrible deeds. Officials stated that at the time of his arrest, Barnes was wanted on charges of attempted murder and rape related to a separate incident in which he had attacked and attempted to kill a teenager in Virginia in October of 2014. In 2016 he was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Abducted Off the Street: The Carlesha Gaither Story is streaming on Lifetime channel