Richland man accused of kidnapping Yakima woman, ditching her bound and gagged

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima Police say a 20-year-old Yakima woman was kidnapped from her home Thursday night by her mom's ex-boyfriend. Police found her alive bound and gagged with duct tape in a car off Ahtanum Road.

The woman told police Rodney Wheeler broke into her house, tackled her and tied her up. The probable cause statement obtained by KIMA indicates Wheeler pretended to be a pizza delivery man carrying a pizza box when he went to the house. Police say he forced his way in when the woman opened the door.

"This isn't something that was thought up on a leisurely drive from Tri-Cities," said Yakima Police Captain, Rod Light. "This was something that was well calculated and well thought out."

The probable cause statement says Wheeler stopped at a hardware store in Yakima before going to the house where he bought two tarps, duct tape and twine. It goes on to say that the woman was stuffed in a large duffle bag. Her ankles and wrists were tied while being gagged with a cut up t-shirt. Police say Wheeler put her in the trunk of a car and drove it to an empty parking lot behind the Yakima Airport. That's where officers found her.

"I can only imagine how traumatic it was for her," said Capt. Light. "For her to spend upwards of probably two hours in the trunk of this car bound and gagged, and not knowing what was going to happen."

Police say they got started on the case when the woman's mother in Benton City started receiving odd text messages from her daughter. The messages were asking her to come to Yakima. The mother became worried and called 911.

When police arrived at the woman's house for a welfare check, they say found Wheeler climbing out of a back window. The woman was not in the house.

Detectives say Wheeler admitted to kidnapping the woman and told police where she was.

Police believe the text messages were sent by Wheeler from the woman's phone. We're told the messages and kidnapping were meant to lure the girl's mother to her house.

"The worst case scenario is obviously, she could have been killed," said Capt. Light.

Wheeler has a listed address in Richland. He was charged with kidnapping and burglary and will make his first court appearance Friday afternoon.