When Tia Withers was in the parking lot of the Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Walmart, she was given a chilling message. It came after Withers reportedly saw a woman and child being forced to get into another vehicle. And when the pair were being escorted, the woman is said to have mouthed to the bystander, “Help me, we have been kidnapped.”
Moments before this incident, however, Withers has revealed that she had been walking back to her truck with her two kids, as they had finished their shop in the Walmart store. Then, when the family were in the parking lot, Withers has alleged that she saw a man shouting at passersby. That individual was apparently also with a woman and child who both looked scared and deeply unhappy.
And as Withers has related, she was immediately concerned about the situation. For this reason, she kept watching the woman and child as she returned to her car. Then, when the shouting man turned away, his female companion made eye contact with Withers and made her plea for help.
Subsequently, Withers said, she heard the man yell at the woman and child. Furthermore, he reportedly threatened them and told them that if they did not get back in the car, he would kill them. And it was those words that, according to Withers, encouraged the mom to step in and do something.
Firstly, Withers has explained, she drove her car around the parking lot before coming to a stop right behind the alleged kidnapper’s vehicle. Her idea was to box him in to prevent him from making a quick getaway with his apparent captives. Then Withers dialled 911 and told the operator about what she’d seen.
And Withers can be heard saying on the 911 call, “Two people have been kidnapped. They are sitting there in a car, I am blocking them off.” However, the driver, later identified as Michael McKinney, looked like he was going to ram her vehicle. So, scared for her children in the car with her, Withers reluctantly moved.
And as it turned out, the woman in McKinney’s car had also dialled 911. Unfortunately, though, she remained silent for fear of alerting McKinney to the call. The 911 dispatcher would tell police at the time, “We have an open 911 call going on, we couldn’t get any information… a guy keeps talking about a Western Union.”
Withers has since said that she then decided to follow McKinney as he sped off in his car, determined not to let him get away. And in the recording of her 911 call, the mom can be heard relaying directions to police, saying, “[McKinney] kidnapped this woman and boy. I’m trying to follow him, and he is by Walgreens now.”
McKinney is then reported to have taken a turn up State Route 256 in Ohio, with Withers on his tail. Ultimately, though, it was near this spot that police managed to stop his car. Before they could get to him, however, Withers has said that she again saw the alleged kidnapper acting suspiciously. “Oh my God,” she revealed to the dispatcher. “He got out of the car, and he just threw something in the grass.”
And when McKinney was arrested, Withers seemingly wasn’t able to suppress her relief at the brief chase being over. She repeated for the dispatcher on the phone, “He just threw something in a bush. Oh, I am so thankful for you guys. Oh, thank you, guys!”
Consequently, police checked the bushes and found what they suspected to be methamphetamine, a strong illegal stimulant. Local law enforcement has also since claimed that McKinney may have been carrying a knife during the incident.
And in July 2017 McKinney was reported as being held in custody while the investigation into the matter continued. He was also charged with kidnapping and extortion, due to his alleged efforts to have his victim withdraw money under duress, and for drug possession, thanks to the methamphetamine he is said to have had.
But why had McKinney stopped at the Walmart in Reynoldsburg in the first place? Well, reportedly, McKinney had been trying to extort money from the people who were with him. Police have subsequently explained that he’d been hoping to find a Western Union so that he could force the woman to withdraw cash or transfer her money to him.
What’s more, it was apparently this that the 911 operator had heard McKinney shouting about after the victim had rung. In reality, though, there was no Western Union nearby – and so this was of no help to dispatchers when they tried to figure out where the call was coming from.
In this case, however, it appears that McKinney may have tried to extort money from his victim over a debt. And while it’s unclear exactly how much was owed, it seems to have been enough to make McKinney drive his victims from North Carolina to Cleveland, and then on to Reynoldsburg, seemingly in order to make them pay.
But as it happens, this isn’t the only time that an Ohio resident is said to have been a Good Samaritan and stopped a kidnapping. In fact, during an incident in September 2017, a man in the state was reportedly able to prevent a girl from being abducted with some quick thinking.
Specifically, Nazier Elahee was in Golf Manor, Ohio, when he allegedly saw and prevented a kidnapping from taking place. In essence, according to Elahee, he saw an older man yanking a young girl along the sidewalk by her arm. Furthermore, as the bystander has related, the girl appeared distressed – much like the mother and son were said to have been in the Michael McKinney case.
And in a September 2017 interview with WXIX, Elahee said, “I noticed that a man was walking down the street, toting a girl behind him, pulling her by the wrist. But as they walked past us, she looked back at me and mouthed the words ‘Help me’ several times.”
Keen to find out what was going on, Elahee then caught up with the pair and asked the girl if she knew the man who was dragging her along. He added to WXIX, “When she said ‘No,’ I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ I asked the gentleman if he knew her and he said, ‘No, I’m taking her home.’”
And as can be seen in the police video released to the public, Elahee managed to save the girl. Apparently, he disturbed the would-be kidnapper enough to send the man running. However, the individual concerned was later caught and, like McKinney, was subsequently charged with kidnapping.