A courageous student escaped from her alleged kidnapper and rapist using quick-thinking and resourcefulness.
On September 4 University of West Georgia student Jaila Gladden went to purchase some medicine and tea from a shop close to her apartment in Carrollton, Georgia.
However, as the 21-year-old walked back to her parked car, what had been a simple shopping trip turned into a nightmare.
It was here a man asked her if she had a lighter. When she replied she didn’t, she claims he pressed a knife against her stomach and ordered her to get into her car. Once she was sat in the passenger seat and he in the driving seat, he asked if she knew how to get to Atlanta.
The man then proceeded to drive her car in the direction of Atlanta, before making a stop behind an abandoned church where her ordeal became even more terrifying.
It was at this location he ordered her to remove her clothes. Although Jaila pleaded, the kidnapper told her there was ‘no purpose in crying’. Jaila claims he proceeded to rape her inside the car, before driving on.
The man then told Jaila of his intentions to commit a robbery at a gas station before driving to Michigan, explaining how he needed the money.
Speaking with BuzzFeed about her harrowing experience, Jaila recalled how she watched where he drove when he first kidnapped her, noting ‘he never took [his] eyes off the road’.
Go look up Jaila Gladden and how she escaped from her kidnapper BECAUSE SHE SAVED HERSELF and I AM HERE FOR IT
— Claire Groft (@claire_groft) January 9, 2018
Jaila Gladden you are my wonder women!!!! ❤️❤️❤️
— Morganathemermaid (@Morganamermaid) January 11, 2018
Whereas many of us would struggle to hold it together during such a horrific incident, Jaila was able to concoct a plan to escape the alleged rapist’s clutches.
Jaila advised her captor that she wouldn’t be able to direct him to gas stations unless she could Google the route on her phone.
Once he returned her phone to her, she turned down the screen’s brightness and shared her location with her boyfriend via text message.
Jaila’s boyfriend, Tamir Bryant, was woken up by the sound of his phone of his phone buzzing, and was puzzled when he saw her location as being Atlanta.
When Tamir asked why she was there, she replied ‘kidnapped’. He then texted back: ‘Stop playing rn, I’m headed to the police station.’
Tamir told BuzzFeed:
I immediately realized it was serious, She would never play like that. She would never say that for no reason.
Once the car reached the gas station, the unsuspecting alleged kidnapper put Jaila in the trunk of the vehicle while he made an unsuccessful robbery attempt. On his return, he revealed further plans to rob either a Walmart or a Kroger.
Sharp-witted Jaila once again asked for her phone back so she could direct him. With the phone back in her possession she was able to send one word texts to Tamir, such as ‘knife’ and ‘scared’.
She was also able to answer questions fielded to Tamir by police officers, stating she was in her own car and letting them know about the kidnapper’s plans to steal from Kroger.
In one heartbreaking message she pleaded:
Don’t let me die.
Jaila led the man towards the nearest Kroger. He parked in an apartment building car park across the road and once again placed her in the trunk. After a few moments he let her out and told her there was a security guard outside. He said he would spend the night in the car park and rob the Kroger store the following morning.
An Atlanta police officer canvassing a car park spotted an idle car matching Jaila’s green Honda Accord, with the engine running and no lights. The driver saw the officer, and turned on the lights, speeding towards the exit. Here he collided with four other cars as well as the parked patrol car, almost hitting the officer.
The police officers drew their weapons and told the driver to stop. Ignoring the order, the man continued to drive before eventually crashing into a fence. Jaila ran from the car towards the officers, informing them the kidnapper had fled over the fence.
Jaila Gladden – What a shero!!! So sorry you had to go through all that.
— Denise (@denise_theuri) January 10, 2018
A Carrollton police spokesperson said, ‘If this victim did not have her phone and did not think quickly she may not have been as lucky’ adding how the public should ‘take lessons’ from brave Jaila.
Tamir said: ‘If I didn’t get the location, who knows what would have happened,’ adding ‘Her doing it on her own — she was able to outsmart the bad guy’.
Speaking about her experience, Jaila has stated:
He’s taken a lot away from my life and it doesn’t need to happen again, It shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
Police have charged the alleged kidnapper with kidnapping, hijacking a motor vehicle, aggravated assault, rape, aggravated sodomy and false imprisonment as well as aggravated assault against a police officer. He is currently in jail awaiting trial.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.