It was a relatively modest ransom demand. But police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, say this kidnapper went as far as threatening his 21-year-old victim with an alligator.
In the first ransom call, a man told his aunt that his captor was threatening to burn him unless she paid $800, according to the Connecticut Post.
“Titi, I was wondering if you were gonna send that money, 'cause I really want to go home,” the victim said in a later call.
But the aunt had detectives with her during the follow-up call, the newspaper reported, and they were trying to trace the call. She just needed to stay on the line a few seconds longer, so she demanded that the man on the other end of the line text her a photo proving that her nephew was still alive and well.
That man, police say, was 30-year-old Isaias Garcia of Garland, Texas, and no one could have expected getting the response they did.
The photograph showed the 21-year-old victim hog-tied in a life-sized Tupperware container he was using like a bathtub, police say. A 3-foot alligator was on top of the victim, with its mouth open, facing the camera. While the image was jarring, the exchange made the call long enough for police on the other end of the line to trace the call to a Residence Inn in the town of Shelton.
Police told News 12 the alligator looked like the one below.
“Titi, man, they got this alligator on me and they saying that if no money is given, they are gonna have him chewing on me,” the victim said, according to the Post.
Just a few minutes later, according to News 12, the same phone the police traced was used to place a Chinese food delivery order from the nearby Great Wall Chinese Take-Out restaurant.
"Yeah, not the brightest," Bridgeport Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald told the station. "Our detectives worked with the FBI to track the victim's last known cell phone location."
Police surrounded the hotel, but Garcia had left with the victim. When Garcia's car pulled up with the victim in the passenger seat, police from Bridgeport and Shelton converged with guns drawn. They captured Garcia, charged him with kidnapping and assault, and took the alligator from the hotel room.
Police told News 12 the victim and the alligator are now safe. Connecticut's Department of Energy & Environmental Protection took custody of the gator.
Garcia remained in custody Thursday at Bridgeport Correctional Center. He made his first court appearance Tuesday and pleaded not guilty first-degree kidnapping, attempted first-degree larceny by extortion, unlawful restraint, third-degree assault and threatening. He is still being held on $345,000 bond, according to jail records.
According to Dallas County court records, Garcia has been previously convicted of aggravated robbery in Texas.