Sheriff Mioduszewski said, “If [James hadn't] let her in, there’s no doubt in my mind that Ramsey would have ended up killing her.”
James Persyn III, a 14-year-old from Shepherd, Michigan, is being hailed a hero in his community for hiding a rape victim in his home while her attacker attempted to get in and even set the house on fire. According to ABC News, James was home alone with his younger siblings while their dad drove a few miles down the road to pick up his fiancée from work when they heard someone banging on their door and a woman screaming for help and to be let in.
James opened the door and a panicked woman rushed into the kitchen. She shouted that someone had kidnapped her and was trying to kill her. She told the children they needed to hide … The teen remembered that his father had told him that, in case of emergency, he should get everyone into one of the bathrooms — the only room in the house with no windows … James said he got his siblings and the frantic woman to climb into the bathtub. He told his sister to call 911 while he retrieved the hunting knife he had just gotten for Christmas.
James then called his father, who had just arrived at his fiancée’s family’s business. James Persyn Jr. told ABC News that his frantic son told him, “There’s a man outside the house and [you] need to get home as soon as possible.” What no one knew was at that point Eric Ramsey, the alleged attacker, had poured gasoline around the house and had set it on fire before taking off. When Persyn arrived at his home he didn’t find the intruder, but what he did see was “the bottom of my house aglow.” He proceeded to put out the fire with the side of his body and his feet, yelling for his children and the intruder, not knowing what he would find once he got into his house.
The police arrived moments later, and mistook Persyn for the intruder his children had reported to 911. It wasn’t until the children opened the door a few moments later that the evening’s events started to become clear. Persyn and the police thought that was the end of it, until the children started talking about the woman, who was still hiding. The police quickly found her, injured and possibly in shock.
Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski told ABC News that the woman, whose identity is not being released, is a senior at Central Michigan University, and was abducted by Ramsey while walking to her car. She told authorities he was armed and forced her into the passenger seat and drove off. Sheriff Mioduszewski said,
The gentleman started driving, took her to a residence in the south part of Isabella County, brought her inside, taped her hands, bound her and then ended up sexually assaulting her. He put her back into her car and retrieved two gas cans from the garage of the house. At one point, going down the road, he told her, basically, that he was going to kill her. So, fearing for her life, she ended up jumping out of the moving car.
The victim fractured her arm, but was able to run to the Persyn house for help.
The suspect, Eric Ramsey, ended up ramming three separate police cars and pinning one deputy after a head on collision. According to Mioduszewski, it was while Ramsey was reversing to ram the deputy’s car again that the officer was able to “slither out and ended up firing some shots and ended up fatally killing Mr. Ramsey there at the scene.” Authorities discovered later that Ramsey had been paroled last summer after serving 5 years in prison for felony assault, and that he had an extensive criminal history of violence.
James is to be honored at a county commission meeting later this month, where he will be given a lifesaving award for his quick thinking and bravery. Although he has received a lot of attention, his family maintains that he “simply did the right thing.” His father said, “I just kept telling him how proud I was of him.”
Feature photo: AP/File
Photo of Eric Ramsey: Michigan Department of Corrections/ File