A Tennessee man wanted for kidnapping his one-year-old daughter and his ex-girlfriend is in the Peach County jail Monday night.
Chelsea Beimfohr spoke to the Byron Police Officer who spotted the car at a gas station off Interstate 75 to help make that arrest less than 24 hours after the attempted kidnapping that happened outside a restaraunt in Springfield, Tennessee.
Rain fell gently Monday afternoon at one Pilot gas station off Interstate 75, but when 19-year-old Dennis Ruland stopped for gas, things turned stormy.
Byron Police Officer Michael Welch followed "pings" from Ruland's cell phone that indicated he might be off Exit 146. He pulled into the Pilot and spotted Ruland's black Ford Escape.
"I waited at the entrance to the gas station until the other units got here and then swooped in and got them from the rear and the front," said Welch.
Ruland was wanted for two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, and two count of reckless endangerment after investigators say he tried to snatch his child from his ex-girlfriend's car outside a Sonic restaraunt in Springfield, Tennessee.
"Apparently, he's had no relationship with the child since birth, that's what we understand," said Welch.
After the arrest was made, the investigation was turned over to Peach County. Sheriff Terry Deese says he's been communicating with Springfield Police, and according to a press release from that department, when Ruland's ex-girlfriend tried to get the child back, he took out a 45-caliber semi-automatic gun and fired it in the air, then she got inside the car and he drove away. She and the child jumped from the car about 7 miles away from the Sonic, but Ruland kept driving.
"The BOLO said the vehicle was headed to Florida when they spotted it. The timing was just perfect," Deese said.
Investigators say Ruland was traveling with another female, his current girlfriend identified as 19-year-old Teresa Silva. She was also arrested at the scene and charged with facilitation of aggravated kidnapping. But that's not all.
"We did find a bit of marijuana in the car, so they've both been charged with marijuana. He's been charged with interference of government property from trying to kick our windows out. Of course, that's the least of his problems," said Deese.
According to that press release from the Springfield Police Department, Ruland's ex-girlfriend and the child were taken to a local hospital with severe, but non-life-threatening injuries. Ruland and Silva remain behind bars at the Peach County Jail.
Springfield Police say Ruland was wanted for aggravated domestic assault, vandalism, theft, domestic assault, and criminal trespassing from prior incidents involving the same victim.
The Tennessean and 13WMAZ
A Tennessee man wanted in connection with the Sunday kidnapping of his ex-girlfriend and one-year-old daughter was arrested in Peach County on Monday morning.
The arrested happened at Pilot gas station off of Interstate 75 at exit 146 about an hour after the suspect maintained his innocence and claimed authorities had twisted the story of what really happened at a Springfield, Tenn. Sonic restaurant one day earlier.
Dennis Ruland, 19, was wanted on two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated domestic assault and two counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the Sunday incident, which occurred just past 4:15 p.m. at Sonic, 3555 Tom Austin Highway, Springfield Police said in a news release.
He was arrested in Peach County, Georgia after a lengthy manhunt, police said.
Byron police Chief Wesley Cannon said his department received a BOLO for the suspect's vehicle. A Byron officer followed pings from a cell phone to that vehicle and arrested Ruland. He was turned over to Peach County deputies and was booked into jail.
During an earlier conversation with the USA Today network, Ruland claimed he was still in Tennessee and he said he had no intention of turning himself in on the charges. The incident at Sonic was not his fault, he said.
“It all started with me and my ex-girlfriend – we have a baby together – meeting at Sonic to sit down and talk,” Ruland said. “I wanted my daughter with me, and I told her I was taking her.”
Ruland said his ex-girlfriend followed him and began hitting him, so he showed her a gun and “shot in the air.”
When asked if he aimed the gun at her, he said he didn’t.
But, that’s not what police say happened that day.
Investigators say Ruland tried to snatch the child from his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle, but when she confronted him and tried to get the child back, he displayed and then shot a 45-caliber semi-automatic weapon at her, the release said.
Ruland was able to get the little girl into another vehicle that he’d staged a short distance away, but the ex-girlfriend continued to fight with him to get the child out of the vehicle, the release said.
The mother was hit in the head with the gun during the altercation, but she was able to grab her daughter and jump from Ruland’s vehicle as he slowed down at the intersection of New Cut Road and Betts Road, about seven miles from the original scene, the release said.
Witnesses called 911 after seeing the mother jump.
“She put her and the baby’s life in danger,” Ruland said of his ex. “I didn’t kidnap my child and I can’t be charged for someone who jumped in my car.”
The New York native and the woman involved in Sunday’s altercation had been together for two and a half years and had just split up, he said, adding that he grew up in Springfield and was “a troubled child, and stayed in and out of court growing up, but I’m really a nice guy once you get to know me.”
“I just want to clear my name and get the story straight because they twisted it up and the media reported what they wanted to,” he said.
Both the ex-girlfriend and the child were taken to a local hospital with severe, but non-life threatening injuries, the release said.
Ruland was with an unknown white female at the time of the abduction, and he was wanted by police for aggravated domestic assault, vandalism, theft, domestic assault and criminal trespassing from prior incidents involving the same victim, investigators said in the release.
Ruland acknowledged Monday that there was another female with him at the time of the incident, but he declined to give her name.
Springfield Police identified the woman as Teresa Silva, 19, of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and said she was being charged with facilitation of aggravated kidnapping in connection with the Sunday incident.
The pair was arrested in Georgia after pulling into a gas station just off the interstate.
Detectives developed Silva as a possible accomplice after they received information that the weapon used during the kidnapping was registered to her husband, who reported the gun stolen Saturday in Fort Campbell, according to a press release issued by Springfield Police Monday afternoon.
Silva is currently separated from her husband and in a relationship with Ruland, the release notes.
The pair headed south after the Sunday incident while Ruland continued to taunt police with Facebook posts on local social media, the release said.
When reached for comment about the situation, Springfield Police Chief David Thompson called it very unusual.
"Both the original incident with him kidnapping the mother and child from Sonic, and him commenting on social media are not normal occurrences for Springfield," he said.
Georgia deputies were able to take Ruland and Silva into custody without incident, but while they were being transported to the Sheriff’s Department, Ruland tried to kick out the back window of the patrol unit, according to the release from Springfield Police.
He is facing several charges in Georgia and Tennessee, the release adds.