Woman escapes potential abduction in Brownstown parking lot

Joseph McLaughlin (Photo: Jackson County Sheriff's Office)

BROWNSTOWN, Ind. (WTHR) - A man is under arrest, accused of trying to kidnap a woman in Brownstown.

But Joseph McLaughlin's attempt didn't work, thanks to the victim's quick thinking.

The nursing assistant was walking to her car outside a Brownstown health care facility around 10:30 p.m. when she told police she saw McLaughlin leaving, too. He seemed to be following her, though he said he was looking for his mother's car.

But something didn't seem right. He was walking very, very close.

As the woman got close to her car, that's when police say McLaughlin struck.

According to the probably cause affidavit, the woman told an officer "Joseph placed one hand on her left shoulder and then pressed something against her back with his other hand, which she believed to be a gun."

The suspect then allegedly told her to "get into the car and she refused." Then he said "she was going to give him a ride."

But by that time, the potential victim made it to her car. She refused his commands, got in fast and shut the door. She hit the locks and was safe inside.

The woman said she saw McLaughlin take off in a small truck. Police found him the next day, but there was no sign of a gun.

The victim's neighbors say they fear for her safety.

"I think that's scary. Like, I think something definitely should be done about it," said Selina Godiva. "I feel bad that she had to go through something like that, because I personally have been through something like that and that is very scary. I don't think anybody should go through that, male or female."

Especially after reports the man was suspected in similar cases before.

"Honestly it’s terrifying and the fact that she can’t even be at work...the work lot and not feel safe, you know. That’s what makes me feel uncomfortable, too," said neighbor Cheyenne Trejo. "I just got a new job, I'm going to have to arrive there at 5 a.m."

But they admire the victim's presence of mind.

"I am the kind of person that would definitely fight the whole situation. You know, I would not want to go with him. I would do whatever it took to get away from him, whatever the cost," Trejo said.

We tried, but couldn’t reach the care home for comment.

McLaughlin faces attempted kidnapping and intimidation charges.