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‘Just unbelievably horrible’: woman with dementia reportedly kidnapped in Wilshire VA parking lot

A 68-year-old woman with dementia was kidnapped outside West Los Angeles Veterans’ Medical Center and held for several hours at an East Hollywood motel, authorities said.

The woman was released Monday afternoon when FBI agents arrested the suspected kidnapper outside the Dixie Hollywood Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Johnny Ray Gasca, 51, of Bronx, NY, has been charged with one count of kidnapping.

The woman was accompanied by a longtime friend to a medical appointment at the care home where she recently moved. This friend – a 42-year-old nurse who asked not to use her name for security reasons – said the victim was her nanny when she was a child in the Philippines and she remained like “a second mom. “. The friend calls the victim her aunt, although the two are not blood related. The friend also has a power of attorney over the victim.

The ordeal began just before 8:30 a.m. Monday, when the two women returned to their car in the Wilshire VA parking lot. “As we were leaving the hospital my aunt and I were talking and then he was there waiting for us,” the friend said.

According to an affidavit made in support of the criminal complaint, “Gasca put his arms around [the victim] and pushed her towards a golden van that was parked nearby. Gasca then chose [the victim] and threw it in the back of the truck’s cabin.

The friend said she did not initially recognize Gasca because he was wearing a mask and cap, but then realized that she did know him. According to the affidavit, the friend believed that Gasca and the victim had “had a friendly relationship before” and the friend told FBI agents that she suspected Gasca had taken money from some of the bank accounts. and retirement of the victim.

“I was in shock,” the friend said. “Because I was surprised he was there, when I finally recognized him and wondered, like, how you found us.” I felt bad for not doing more, but I mean, I tried my best to try and memorize the license plate and make of the car. But it all happened so fast. “

She described the alleged kidnapping as “just unbelievably horrific”.

The friend called 911 around 8:30 a.m., according to the affidavit. Because the Wilshire VA is government owned, the case was handled by the FBI.

The FBI was able to track the victim to the East Hollywood motel using his cell phone, according to the affidavit.

After her arrest, Gasca told FBI agents that he and the victim pulled up at a bank after leaving Wilshire VA, where she withdrew $ 15,000 from her account, according to the affidavit. Gasca also alleged that the victim’s friend was holding her against her will and had just picked her up, according to the affidavit. According to the affidavit, he stated that the victim agreed to come with him and “he just guided [the victim] to the gold-colored truck, then lifted her into the truck because she was too small to ride on her own.

The victim told FBI agents that Gasca grabbed her forearms and put her inside the truck, and that she was afraid to run away because she feared Gasca would do something to her. thing or hit her with the truck, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, the FBI is still trying to locate the person who was driving the golden truck on Monday morning.

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