Kidnapping victim returns to scene of crime with police

Police investigate a kidnapping after the victim and a suspect were found in an apartment building at 1400 Seventh Ave.
Police investigate a kidnapping after the victim and a suspect were found in an apartment building at 1400 Seventh Ave. SW Monday morning, Monday, May 17, 2010. Police said Amanda Daniel, 19, was kidnapped by a man around 4 a.m. while she was working at Kwik Shop a few blocks away. (Jeff Raasch/The Gazette)

One day after she was kidnapped, Amanda Daniel returned to the apartment building in southwest Cedar Rapids where police said she was taken by her abductor.

Daniel, 19, was kidnapped around 4 a.m. Monday as she worked the graveyard shift at Kwik Shop, 1001 First Ave. SW, police said. About seven hours later, more than a dozen officers rushed to the apartment of 54-year-old Keith Elson, Jr. after they noticed blood on a door at 1400 Seventh Ave. SW.

Investigators had determined a bicycle left at the convenience store belonged to Elson, and moved in on his apartment. Both Daniel and Elson were found inside the apartment and both were injured, police said.

Daniel spent the afternoon at Mercy Medical Center. She was treated for bumps and scratches and was discharged later in the day.

Around mid-day Tuesday, Daniel walked across the church parking lot next door to the apartment building, explaining to an investigator how she got to Elson’s residence.

A police officer was posted at the top of the stairs next to Elson’s splintered doorway, two cans of Pepsi under his chair.

Elson, who moved to the apartment No. 1 on April 1, kept a low profile and seemed odd to the other tenants in the tan, seven-unit building, said Patrick Blin, who has lived there a year.

“He was only living here for like a month, and he was supposed to get evicted,” Blin said. “Any time anyone would knock on his door he would never answer it, and he was sneaking around at night.”

Meanwhile, Elson remained in a hospital bed at St. Luke’s Hospital after surgery for a stab wound to the chest. Police did not release any new details about the case Tuesday, including how he acquired the stab wound, but there has been speculation that Daniel fought back against Elson.

Police Lt. Kenneth Washburn said Elson’s wounds were serious but not life-threatening. An officer is standing by to monitor him 24 hours, and he will be arrested when he is released, police said.

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin, a police spokeswoman, said it was not known when Elson would be released from the hospital.

Attempts to reach Elson’s family members on Tuesday were unsuccessful. Elson’s father, Keith Elson, Sr., did not respond to interview requests, but a woman at his employer said the father had not been in contact with his son for several years.

Daniel has declined interview requests. But it appeared Tuesday that police were getting immediate help with their investigation.

“From the little I know about her, she has just got to be the strongest young lady,” Hamblin said.

The four hours before 8 a.m. are twice as hazardous for convenience store workers than any other period, according to Department of Labor statistics. Convenience store clerks are also among the most likely civilian workers to be crime victims.

The last fatal incident at a Cedar Rapids convenience store remains unsolved. Brian Schappert, a 22-year-old Coe College senior, was working the midnight shift at a Kum & Go store at 2743 Mount Vernon Rd. SE when his throat was slashed, apparently during a robbery, on Sept. 8, 1989.

Schappert’s body was found by a cab driver who stopped to buy gas about 3:30 a.m.By Adam Belz and Jeff Raasch

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