Police hope new video will help them catch shopping center attacker

CRESTVIEW HILLS, KY (FOX19) - Local shoppers hope new surveillance video will lead police to the man accused of snatching an elderly woman from a popular outdoor mall.

Until now, authorities had been using a sketch to try and locate the person who police say abducted Ann Ernst, 74, from outside the Dillards store at the Crestview Hills Town Center on June 3.

Police said the suspect then drove her to a company called Backsheider Transportation in Miami Township, took her into the woods where he gagged her, tied her to a tree, and took off. She was able to escape and seek help.

FOX19 spoke with the victim's husband over the phone on Thursday evening. He said his wife is recovering, and doing as well as can be expected.

The new surveillance video shows the suspect walking at St. Elizabeth Health Care. That is the same location where police said they found the victim's Ford Taurus.

A second video shows the suspect in line at the Speedway gas station at Philadelphia and Fourth streets in Covington. That video shows the suspect wearing the same fisherman style hat that he was wearing in the initial sketch.

Mr. Ernst told FOX19 that he and his wife just returned home from a week-long trip to see family, and she was finally able to get some peace. That's until she returned home to the news that her attacker is still out there.

Shoppers were all hopeful the new video and pictures could help police catch the suspect.

"You hope that they're working hard to find him," said Karrie Messina. "You don't think that it happens at home, but when it happens so close to home, it's pretty scary."

"Being a woman this age and having a child-- you kind of look over your shoulder a little bit more regardless of what's going on and what's not," said Lindsey Messina. "But definitely kind of makes you think a little bit more."

Ben Hensley was shopping at the same Dillards the day the victim was abducted. He's confident police will catch the guy and refuses to let it scare him away from the shopping center.

"If I lived being nervous like that," said Hensely. "He's out there. I mean there's plenty people who do that so we'd just be living nervously like all the time."

Police say the suspect is a slender white man, about 6'2" and 165 pounds and between 30 and 40 years old, with bug eyes and buck teeth, armed with a knife and gun. He was wearing a jungle-style, army hat with a brim all the way around, baggy green cargo pants and white tennis shoes.

He was last seen driving Ernst's 2001 Ford Taurus. The car was found in Covington and is being searched for evidence.

Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040.

Related Stories:

Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.