CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WAVY) — A Suffolk man accused of trying to abduct a University of Virginia student Wednesday night in Charlottesville is now in custody, and made his first appearance in court.
The Charlottesville Police Department said 40-year-old James Robert Allen was taken into custody at 12:11 p.m. Thursday. He faced charges of strangulation and abduction.
Allen appeared in court for the first time via video Friday morning.
Police said a female student reported around 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday that an unknown man, later identified as Allen, tried to abduct her in the area of the 800 block of Cabell Avenue, just north of UVA’s Grounds. Multiple vehicles and trees were struck by Allen’s vehicle during the incident, police said.
The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at UVA Medical Center, and was listed in “stable” condition, police said. Police are not identifying her and have not shared a potential motive at this time, though it has been confirmed that Allen and the victim did not know each other beforehand.
Police said they believe that Allen grabbed the student and forced her into a vehicle that crashed along Cabell Avenue. The victim was then able to escape. It has not yet been released as to what caused the crash, or if the victim had anything to do with it.
Charlottesville Police held a news conference Thursday afternoon, about an hour after the arrest, during which they confirmed they received numerous calls about sightings of the suspect in this case, which ultimately led to taking him into custody.
WAVY’s Andy Fox went to the address listed for Allen and spoke with a woman, Jessica, who said she was Allen’s wife through the front door. Jessica said she last saw Allen on Sunday and that he no longer lives at the house. Jessica also said she heard about the accusations against her husband on the news, and that nothing had seemed out of the ordinary.
Jessica said that her husband was not home, and that she didn’t know where he was.
“Do you know anything about what happened?”
“No,” she said.
“Do you know that he is wanted for attempting to abduct a UVA student?”
“Yes, I just saw it in the news and on Facebook,” Jessia said.
Shortly after WAVY TV-10’s live shot at noon, four U.S. Marshals showed up at the home, and were informed that James Allen was not in the home, but his wife was.
They stayed until around 12:20 p.m., about the time it was filtering down that Allen had been taken into custody.
Before U.S. Marshals got there, Jessica said she had not had any contact with her husband and didn’t know what led Allen to do this. Jessica also didn’t know the victim, she said.
“My first message is to thank God, this lady is safe, and reunited with her family, and that she is healthy, and she is going to get through this with a lot of love,” said UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo, at a news conference.
Back in the neighborhood, there was surprise that this all happened.
“He’s been a good neighbor, no noise, no police, no cars, no parties, like the rest of the neighborhood,” said Bill Kernazitskas.
Jessica said the last time she saw him was on Sunday. When asked about whether her husband still was living at the home, she gave a long pause before saying, “No.”
Charlottesville Police marshaled its resources to find James Allen.
“We bring as many resources as we can,” said Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis. “When something like this happens in any part of the community, we have to get a violent person off the street and that is what we did.”
According to NBC’s WVIR, Allen fled the scene on foot, and was taken into custody in Louisa County.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280 or Detective Raines at 434-970-3266.
Charlottesville Police said the following agencies have assisted in this case: Albemarle County Police Department, University of Virginia Police Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Virginia State Police.