Quick thinking by Love’s 291 helps Customer in need
"Can you do me a favor?" the Customer asked.
It was 6:30 in the morning in Richmond, Kentucky, and the day was just getting started for Love's 291 clerk Deborah Stroud. But she listened intently to the Customer's request.
"Is there any way, without looking at the car outside or the man in it, that after I leave you could call 911, please? I'm being held against my will," she said.
The next five minutes may have saved the woman's life.
Stroud knocked on General Manager Mohammad Zafor's door and knocked loudly.
"I was in the office. I had just come in, and she just banged on my door pretty hard. Something must be wrong," Zafor said.
Stroud gave "Z," as all his employees call him, the same instructions the Customer did.
Don't look outside. Don't be obvious. And call the police.
"I'm concerned but half-confused. Is this true or not true?" Zafor asked.
He nonchalantly walked outside and started picking up trash, and he got a good look at the suspect and his vehicle. Zafor walked back inside and made contact with the store's Truck Tire Care Manager, Jeremy Lyons, asking him to call the authorities immediately.
Kentucky State Troopers soon arrested Jeffrey O. Rowland of Winchester, Kentucky, on suspicion of kidnapping. In a story posted to the Richmond, Kentucky, newspaper's website, Trooper Josh Brashers explained how they were able to locate the man.
"The clerk was able to get a description of the vehicle and the license plate number," said Trooper Brashears. "The Kentucky State Police Post received the call around 7:30 a.m."
The woman later told authorities she had been held against her will for days and had been tortured by her captor. Stroud said she could sense the Customer's request was real from the very beginning.
"I could tell by the look on her face that something was very wrong and we needed to help her," Stroud said.
She said it made her feel good that she was able to help. The woman's kids came by the store later that day to thank Stroud for her help in saving their mother.
"It made me feel good to know I helped," Stroud said.
Zafor said he's proud of his team.
"I feel like we did the right thing. We're a part of this community," he said.