BRADENTON - A circuitous path of communications led to the rescue of a woman held captive in a Bradenton home Saturday. Through social media, descriptions of landmarks and GPS tracking, Bradnenton Police found and freed Delisia Hairston from a home on 20th Street East.
A police detective shot and killed her captor, Craig Devon Rodgers, 40, five blocks away after Rodgers came at the detective with a metal pole, police say. Investigator John Morningstar, a six-year veteran, remains on administrative leave, which is routine after an officer uses deadly force.
Hairston, 37, met Rodgers in Georgia and came with him to Bradenton voluntarily. But beginning the morning of June 7, Rodgers began keeping Hairston confined to a room inside the single family home at 302 20th Street East. The next day, Bradenton police received a phone call from a woman in South Carolina, saying that "I have a family member that has been kidnapped and taken to your city."
Hairston did not have phone access, but found a wi-fi connection when Rodgers let go outside to the front porch and contacted her cousin through Facebook messages. Hairston did not know where she was, the caller said, but described landmarks, including a body of water. With that scant information, police narrowed the possible area, and GPS tracking located her. "I just find it remarkable that we were able to take all the vague information that we had and the dispatcher was able to locate the victim in a relatively short amount of time," said Merriman.
They were at Rodgers's brother's house as guests. Rodgers ran away as police arrived, and died from a gunshot to the chest after confronting Morningstar, Merriman said. It was Morningstar's first "remarkable use of force" during his tenure with the department. He has no disciplinary action in his personnel file. "He's recovering," said Deputy Chief Warren Merriman. "It was a very traumatic event for him also."
No one else who was in the home faces charges, Merriman said.
The house sat empty Wednesday. Hernan Cortez, who lives across the street, said it appeared that everyone moved out. He saw the police activity at the home Saturday, but saw no signs of trouble before then. "There was no screaming or anything to make it suspicious or seem like anyone was kidnapped," he said.