The first police heard of it was a 911 hangup call about 1:20 a.m. Thursday on Clinton Avenue in Cortland. It ended about 120 miles away in Pennsylvania with an arrest on the side of Interstate 81.
In between, police said they found a beaten woman, a stolen car and a kidnapped toddler.
Jeremy L. Flowers, 34, of 615 Boyd St., Watertown, was charged Thursday with second-degree kidnapping, third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; felonies, as well as third-degree assault, second-degree menacing and endangering the welfare of a child, misdemeanors.
Cortland city police said they were called about 1:20 a.m. to the Speedway at 154 Clinton Ave., Cortland, for a 911 hangup call. When they arrived, the store clerk said a woman had come into the store saying her boyfriend was beating her.
The clerk told police the woman had locked herself into a storage closet, police said. When police opened the door, they said they found a 26-year-old woman who was severely beaten.
The woman told police that Flowers had forced her and her 18-month-old daughter into her Nissan Altima after an argument at a Utica hotel. He had, she said, been beating her along the way.
However, police couldn’t see the vehicle, or the girl, in the parking lot, Lt. Michael Strangeway said. The store’s surveillance video showed Flowers driving away when the woman ran toward the back of the store.
Flowers told the woman the trio was going to Atlanta and accused her of cheating on him, the woman told police. Flowers punched the woman in the face, head and arms, grabbed her by the hair and slammed her face and head against the passenger side window and the dashboard, police said.
At one point, the woman told police, he threatened to kill her and struck her daughter twice on the top of her head with his fist.
The woman tried to call police in Utica, she said, Flowers interrupted her and took her phone. When Utica police tried to call the woman back, Flowers accessed the woman’s account and changed her telephone number.
Cortland police began the process of working with Cortland County emergency dispatchers to ping the woman’s cell phone and broadcast an Amber Alert. They tracked the suspect south on Interstate 81 into Pennsylvania.
After several attempts, Pennsylvania state police intercepted the vehicle in Luzerne County, near Wilkes-Barre.
Flowers was arrested without further incident, police said, and the girl was recovered unhurt. The girl is not related to Flowers.
Flowers, who is on parole in New York, was arraigned as a fugitive in Pennsylvania and held without bail pending an appearance Wednesday in Luzerne County Court. A Pennsylvania judge refused to waive extradition Thursday, Strangeway said, but when Flowers is returned, he’ll appear in Cortland City Court, before the case moves to Cortland County Court.
Cortland police worked with both New York and Pennsylvania state police.
Aid to Victims of Violence provided assistance to the victims, police said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the role of emergency dispatchers.