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March 21, 2000  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Alleged kidnapper held on $1 million bond


On Monday, March 20, James P. Johnson was being held on $1 million bond for allegedly abducting 10-year-old Jessica Rodriguez after she got off a school bus. The March 6 kidnapping took place in a rural area in Gilchrist County, about 30 miles from Gainesville. Jessica and her two younger sisters, ages 4 and 8, had just been dropped off at the end of the long dirt driveway that leads to their home when a man in a green sport utility vehicle drove up and abducted Jessica while her sisters watched. Jessica’s mother, Jennifer Graham, said she usually walks to the end of the driveway to meet her daughters but had fallen asleep that day. The bus driver told authorities that he did not see a man or a vehicle near the bus stop. Three days after the abduction, Graham appeared on NBC’s "Today" show to call for her daughter’s return. "We are praying for both of you," she said in an appeal to the kidnapper. "Please bring my baby back home to us." Later the same day, Jessica walked into a Wal-Mart store in Gainesville and told employees, "Call my mom. My name is Jessica." She was reported in good condition. Johnson, 38, was charged with kidnapping a person under 13 with the purpose of committing lewd and lascivious or sexual acts. If convicted, he could face life in prison without parole.

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