Amber Alert lights trail to kidnap suspect: Police collar alleged abductor in Stoughton

By Sean Murphy / News Staff Writer
Saturday, July 31, 2004

STOUGHTON — It began yesterday morning with the reported kidnapping of
two teenage girls in Everett and ended nine hours later thanks to a
sharp-eyed motorist and an intense police manhunt.

Raymond Etheridge, 35, of 41 Vernal St., Everett, was captured in the
woods around 8 p.m. by a police officer with a tracking dog. Last night
police were still sorting out charges which could include kidnapping and
assault. Etheridge will be arraigned Monday in Stoughton District Court.

According to Everett Police, officers went to a reported housebreak at 54
Central Ave. at 11:15 a.m. Police believe the burglar may have been
interrupted by the two alleged victims, identified as Victoria Beatrice
Messina, 15, and Esther Jean-Baptiste, 17.

After kidnapping both girls, police said, the burglar then called
Messina’s mother and made a $50,000 ransom demand. Police then began
issuing Amber Alert broadcasts, identifying the car, license plate, and
descriptions of the suspect and victims.

That’s where Wayne Beacham came in.

Beacham, 54, of 6 Redmond Road, Canton, was on the last day of his
two-week vacation from his job as a technician at Polaroid Corp. He was
on the way home from his parents’ home and driving south on Rte. 138 near
the intersection with Rte. 128 at about 2 p.m.

Beacham said he was listening to the Amber Alert on WBZ radio, when he
looked up to see a car in front of him that looked exactly like the
suspect’s vehicle.

“I said, ‘Wow, this is unbelievable!’” he exclaimed.

But Beacham does not have a cell phone, and was forced to turn to fellow
motorists while he was stopped at stoplights, and ask them to call
police. He followed the car, a dark green Subaru station wagon, for about
3 miles.

Eventually, Beacham said it got the attention of police, because two
officers on a detail tried to step in front of the car, ordering it to
stop.

“He tried to run ‘em down,” Beacham said.

Stoughton interim Police Chief David Chamberlin confirmed that part,
saying, “The second officer barely got out of the way.”

That led to a police chase through the streets of Stoughton, which came
to a partial ending when the car sped down Prospect Street to the
Pleasant Street intersection.

“He came across, and was going to take a right, but … he didn’t make
it,” said Shirley McDade, 66, who lives across the street from the
intersection and saw the whole thing. She said the car went off the road
and hit some bushes.

Then the driver got out and ran into the woods nearby, leaving the girls
behind. McDade said one seemed OK, but the other looked like she was in
shock.

Chamberlin said one of the girls had a cut on her wrist that police
believe came from a knife found in the car. Both girls were taken to
Caritas Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, where a nursing supervisor
said they were treated and released.

But the suspect was still at large, prompting a massive manhunt. Police
from the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council and the MetroSTAR tactical
team moved in with helicopters, tracking dogs and dozens of officers
combing back yards and other nearby areas.

It took about six hours from when Beacham spotted the car before the call
came over the radio, “Suspect in custody,” at about 8 p.m., when the man
was found in bushes behind 55 Rockland St.

Officer Darvin Anderson, a canine officer from the Brockton Police, made
the collar, together with his partner, a 5-year-old Czechoslovakian
Shepherd named Gomo. The suspect was armed with a hatchet, police said,
but the dog and his partner managed to catch him without being hurt.
Chamberlin, in a press conference at about 8:30 p.m., said suspect
Etheridge was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital to be treated for bite
wounds. Police expect he will be held in Stoughton for the weekend
pending his arraignment.

Chamberlin said the list of charges is still being worked out, but police
believe there will be at least two counts of assault with a dangerous
weapon.

Copyright 2004 Metro West Daily News

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