Cellphone ping helped find kidnapped woman in Gulfport

rfitzgerald@sunherald.comJuly 8, 2014 

Rodriguez

GULFPORT -- Court documents show law enforcement used a cellphone ping to help find a kidnapped Louisiana woman with her alleged assailant in Gulfport.

The woman was found safe at a RaceWay gas station on U.S. 49 and Jeremiah Antoine Rodriguez, 34, was taken into custody.

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office had contacted the FBI on June 23 to report Rodriguez had broken into a 33-year-old woman's home, holding her and relatives at gunpoint several hours. The relatives included her two children, both under age 12. Rodriguez allegedly forced the woman to leave with him in a 2001 Chrysler Concorde.

Investigators obtained cellphone numbers for Rodriguez and the woman and had a cellular provider ping the numbers to help find them. Pinging, similar to how a GPS tracking system works, allows a phone company to send a signal to a phone and determine its location.

A ping pinpointed Rodriguez's phone near the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, and Gulfport police and FBI agents soon found the couple, an FBI agent's criminal complaint said.

Rodriguez and the woman were in a gas station parking lot in the 9100 block of U.S. 49. In his pants pocket, he had a gun with one round in the chamber and a magazine with five rounds of ammunition, and a razor-blade knife and twine rope, the agent said.

Rodriguez was held at the Harrison County jail pending extradition to face state charges in Louisiana.

Meanwhile, a federal grand jury indicted him July 2 on charges of kidnapping, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence and possession of a firearm by a felon. He had been convicted of kidnapping and sexual battery in Jefferson Parish, La., Feb. 26, 2003.

Federal marshals retrieved Rodriguez from Gulfport on Monday. His initial appearance in Baton Rouge is set for Thursday.

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