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Fake Meter-Readers Hold Grandmother, Child Hostage

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This composite of one of the suspects may
RINGWOOD — They came dressed asCarolina Power and Lightemployees, but they had robbery on their minds. Now the search is on for at least three men who tied up an elderly Halifax County woman and one of her granddaughters, then kidnapped another granddaughter.

"One of them kept saying, `I'm going to kill her. I'm going to kill her.' " recalled 8-year-old Jessica Knight.

Knight stood closely at her mother's side as she relived being terrorized, threatened and held hostage in her grandmother's home. It happened about 10 a.m. Wednesday, when at least three men posing as CP&L workers came to the back door, claiming to check the power.

Soon after they were invited in, Jessica, her grandmother and her 10-year-old cousin, Sierra, knew something was wrong.

"They pulled out a gun and told us to get on the ground," Jessica explained. "And we knew they were going to shoot us."

The Knight family said the men bound and gagged Jessica and her grandmother, and eventually kidnapped the 10-year-old girl and took her to another relative's home looking for money. Sierra was found unharmed, but she and Jessica's grandmother were too shook up to talk.

Jessica remembered just how frightened they all were.

"They said they were going to put gas on the children and burn us all up," Jessica stated. "My grandmother said, `Please don't do that to my children.' "

Jessica's mother, Sharon, says she hopes the men will soon be caught and locked up. With the help of a composite sketch of one suspect, Halifax County Sheriff Jeff Frazier hopes to do just that.

"I would consider all of these men, whether it's three or four to be armed and dangerous," Frazier said.

In addition to the composite sketch, investigators have a few more leads. They believe the men may have left in a red Acura Legend. They also suspect the men have ties to Wilson or the Washington, D.C., area.

In another similar but separate case, the Halifax County Sheriff's Department is investigating the case of a 71-year-old man who was found bound, gagged and locked in his home early Wednesday evening.

Authorities hope that anyone with information about either case will contact the sheriff's department.

In addition, investigators are telling residents to be aware that meter readers should never have to come inside the home to do their jobs. Residents also are advised to ask for photo identification before letting any utility workers in their homes.


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