Trucker Kidnapped Woman and Held Her for Ransom, FBI Alleges
Florence, SC – A South Carolina trucker is behind bars in what the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) alleges is a case of kidnapping for ransom.
In a sealed court affidavit obtained by Transportation Nation Network (TNN), FBI special agents assigned to the case assert a woman in Memphis contacted them in the early morning hours of January 28, claiming her daughter had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom.
The woman told investigators her daughter had moved to Savannah, GA two months prior with her boyfriend.
According to the woman, she had a received a video call from her daughter shortly after midnight saying she had been kidnapped by an unknown man.
The affidavit says the woman observed physical injuries to her daughter’s face, including bleeding, swelling, and bruising.
The victim told her mother that her boyfriend owed money, and she had been taken due to their relationship.
According to court documents, the assailant was demanding money from the victim’s mother in exchange for her release.
If the mother did not pay, the assailant would kill the victim, the affidavit asserts.
Approximately two hours after the initial call, a second call from the Facebook Messenger account belonging to the victim’s boyfriend was made to the victim’s mother.
It was again the assailant, demanding $2,000 be transferred via “CashApp” as a ransom payment.
While the mother was at FBI offices, several more calls from the boyfriend’s Facebook Messenger account came in, which agents were able to observe and record.
In recorded audio, the assailant told the victim’s mother her boyfriend owed his boss $5,000, and her daughter had been taken to ensure the money was repaid and to “teach [the boyfriend] a lesson.”
The affidavit asserts the assailant’s boss had been trying to find the victim’s boyfriend for two years.
Meanwhile, the boyfriend was questioned by FBI agents in Savannah, who revealed his girlfriend had been “picked up in a black semi-truck with a while trailer the night she was kidnapped.”
The mother allegedly told the assailant she had the money for ransom and attempted to acquire the funds to pay, but was unable to do so, the affidavit states.
The victim’s mother sent $100 via CashApp, but did not have the remainder of the ransom to send, according to investigators.
The affidavit alleges the assailant grew increasingly agitated with the victim’s mother as he realized she did not have the money, saying things to her like, “If you lie [to me] again, there will be consequences,” and sending her texts via Facebook Messenger saying, “You lied and played me three times; I’m done talking,” and “I gave you enough time. Time’s up.”
Communication with the assailant ended when he gave the victim’s mother a “deadline of 7:19 p.m. CST” to come up with the money, otherwise he would turn the victim “over to other individuals to whom [the victim’s boyfriend] owed the money.”
How the FBI Identified the Trucker
The FBI quickly reached out to Facebook for help in the investigation, and the phone number linked to the boyfriend’s account was identified as the victim’s phone number.
Once the account’s phone number was verified by Facebook, the FBI contacted the mobile provider to get a trace on the phone.
However, the mobile provider informed investigators the phone was turned off and the location could therefore not be determined.
The FBI then turned to CashApp for assistance in gathering information linked to the account the assailant demanded money be sent.
CashApp provided the FBI two phone numbers — one being a Google Voice number, and the other associated with AT&T.
The FBI traced the AT&T phone number to Brian Summerson, 25, of Dillon, SC.
AT&T was contacted and was able to ping the phone in Florence, SC.
Open source searches for images of Summerson revealed a photo of a black semi-truck — congruent to what the boyfriend told investigators.
The logo on the door read “Summerson Transport, Dillon, SC,” with a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number and plates belonging to Hackettstown, NJ-based Lavanta Logistics.
The FBI notified authorities in South Carolina to be on the lookout for the semi, which was located a short time later in an unnamed business’s parking lot.
Florence County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) advised the FBI the truck was running, but curtains were drawn, so they were unable to see inside, according to the affidavit.
FBI agents requested FCSO make contact with the big rig’s occupants for a welfare check.
Officers made contact with a male occupant, identified as Summerson, and asked him to step out of the truck.
Summerson complied, and as he exited the truck, FCSO deputies heard a scream from a lady inside the tractor-trailer saying she had been kidnapped.
FCSO reported a “scuffle” with Summerson that ended with him being taken into custody.
The female was positively identified as the victim in question and was transported to a nearby hospital for evaluation.
An arrest warrant for Summerson was issued on January 30 on charges of “kidnapping” and “transmit through interstate/foreign commerce ransom demand person,” according to a criminal complaint.
Summerson is currently in the Florence County Detention Center following a detention hearing, which was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
TNN will continue to monitor the story and bring you updates as they become available.