OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. — A Franklin County man featured on "America's Most Wanted" on kidnapping charges in Raleigh has been arrested in Mississippi.
Ocean Springs, Miss., Police Chief Lionel Cothern said Wednesday that Nathan Randall Pettigrew, 32, was arrested Tuesday at a traffic stop near his home where "he was living under the radar" as Jason A. Kirkwood.
Pettigrew was wanted in Youngsville on charges of statutory rape and indecent liberties with a minor and in Raleigh on charges of first-degree kidnapping, larceny, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and injury to personal property.
Youngsville police were looking for Pettigrew after a 15-year-old girl reported that he had sexually assaulted her in July 2005.
According to Raleigh police Capt. Craig Haines, less than a month later, on the night of Aug. 2, 2005, Pettigrew convinced his 19-year-old ex-girlfriend to pick him up, near the intersection of Old Wake Forest Road and Capital Boulevard and forced her to drive at knifepoint. It's unclear where he might have been headed.
The woman was able to escape after two attempts and ran into a convenience store on Peace Street, where witnesses called 911.
Pettigrew hadn't been seen since.
In 2007, his case was featured several times on WRAZ-TV's crime show, "NC Wanted" and made national headlines when "America's Most Wanted" featured it in 2008.
"It's very gratifying for law enforcement," Haines said. "It's even more gratifying knowing that we're going to be able to help the victims out and get them to the next stage to bring justice for them."
Haines called Pettigrew's arrest a group effort over the last six years of local and federal law enforcement officers as well as agencies across five states.
Haines said Oceans Springs police had been assisting with surveillance for several weeks after Raleigh investigators developed information that Pettigrew had been living in Ocean Springs under an alias.
Pettigrew had been working in construction in a town still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, Cothern said. He's now in the Ocean Springs Municipal Jail, awaiting extradition to Raleigh.
"This is one case that's successful, but there's a lot more that you don't hear about. We take this case and every case very seriously – whether it's one year, two years, six years or 10 years," Haines said. "We're always going to continue. We're not going to close out a case. We're going to follow every lead until we actually apprehend a suspect."