MT. PLEASANT, Mich. –The parking lot was packed at the Student Activities Center on Central Michigan University’s campus Wednesday night.
That’s just one reason why Isabella County’s Sheriff cannot believe what happened around 9:30 that night.
Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski said a CMU student – a woman from Kent County – was forced into her vehicle at gun point by 30 year-old Eric Ramsey. The pair drove to a nearby home on Crawford Road where members of Ramsey’s family live. There, investigators say the woman was bound with tape and sexually assaulted.
Then, Ramsey reportedly grabbed two gas cans from a nearby barn, forced the woman back into the vehicle and took off.
“(Ramsey) ended up telling the female that he was going to kill her,” explained Sheriff Mioduszewski. “At that point, because (the victim) did fear for her life, she ended up jumping out of the moving vehicle.”
With her arm badly hurt, the woman ran up to a home on Mission Road.
“I came out in the living room and heard a girl screaming ‘help, let me in, please, please,’” said 14 year-old James, who was at home with his 11-year-old sister Acelin, and two-year-old brother.
The kids know they’re not supposed to open the door for strangers, but “…you could tell by her voice something was wrong, that’s why we let her in,” explains Acelin. “She had tape all over her and wires wrapped around her, it was just sad to see her like that.”
James says he locked the door, grabbed his siblings and dog, and hid inside the bathroom with the woman. That’s when the CMU students called 911, telling dispatchers she was kidnapped.
Meanwhile outside, Ramsey was trying to get in.
“We could hear him pounding on the door, saying ‘let me in.’” Acelin adds the noise only lasted for a short time.
James called his Dad, who was just up the road, not knowing that, according to investigators, Ramsey was spraying the home with gasoline and lit it on fire.
“I could tell by my son’s voice, there was trouble,” said James Persyn, the children’s father. When he got home, Persyn says he was able to stomp out the flames, but there was no sign of Ramsey.
The Sheriff says Ramsey took off in the victim’s car; making it to Otsego County where he rammed a Michigan State Trooper on the road. During the chase, Ramsey ditched the car and stole a city-owned sanitary pickup truck, before heading South and ramming a second cruiser head-on in Crawford County, injuring an officer.
A short time later, a deputy from Crawford County approached the vehicle and opened fire on Ramsey. The 30-year-old suspect was killed.
Chief Bill Yeagley of CMU’s campus police called the victim a hero. Both he and Sheriff Mioduszewski agree the woman probably would not have lived if it wasn’t for the two brave children that let her into their home, and the fact she remained calm and made smart decisions during the horrifying ordeal.
Now, Persyn and the children’s mother, Tiffany Ramon, are left to comfort their quick-thinking kids who helped save the woman.
“We’re trying to let them know the chances of something like this happening again are very slim,” said Persyn. “It’s been a long night (with) no sleep, but everything you ask of your children to do, was done.”
In a strange turn of events, Ramon said she went to high school with Ramsey and has been in contact with him, on and off, for the past few years.
“I’m very shocked that it was Eric (Ramsey), I would never imagine him doing something like this or picture him acting this way.”
When FOX 17 went to the home on Crawford Road, where the alleged rape happened, family members of Ramsey said, “he’s not that bad (of a guy), you don’t even know,” but would not comment further.