Man held woman against her will for a year before escape, officials

A man in New Jersey is accused of holding a woman against her will for a year before she escaped and asked for help at a gas station earlier this month, authorities said Friday.

The woman sought help at a gas station in Burlington County on Feb. 7, and she told people there she had been kidnapped for a year, the state attorney general’s office said.

James W. Parrillo Jr., 57, is charged with first-degree kidnapping, second-degree strangulation and aggravated assault, and third-degree criminal restraint, and he is being held in jail pending trial, officials said.

“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,” Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said in a statement.

Security video obtained by NBC Philadelphia shows the woman, who has not been named, running into the store and locking the door, with a man closely following her.

“The lady came running, like barefoot, and she was like, ‘he kidnapped me,’” gas station attendant Jamie Garthaus told the station. “So, we ran inside and locked the door.”

Parrillo was arrested the same day. An attorney representing Parrillo could not immediately be reached for comment Friday night.

The woman told authorities that they’d met at a New Mexico gas station in February 2022 when Parrillo asked her for a ride to Arizona, and they initially were in a relationship, the attorney general’s office said.

Parrillo assaulted her a month later when they were in California, and she felt unable to leave, the New Jersey attorney general’s office and state police said.

Parrillo took the woman’s phone and credit and debit cards, kept her from her family, and held her against her will, eventually in New Jersey, the officials said. They arrived in the state in December.

Officials said the woman had noticed the deadbolt at the gas station during a prior visit, and planned to run there when she got a chance.

She fled the home where they lived in Bass River Township on Feb. 7 after she was choked and assaulted, the attorney general’s office and state police said.

A New Jersey State Police affidavit of probable cause filed in court said the victim had marks on her neck. The woman said she had been held against her will for a year, and that Parrillo had been refusing to allow her to contact her family, according to the affidavit.

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