Local News

Warren County couple recounts harrowing carjacking ordeal

Posted May 8, 2014 6:43 p.m. EDT
Updated May 9, 2014 9:13 a.m. EDT

— A Warren County family was the victim of a carjacking late Wednesday when they stopped along a rural road to help who they thought was a stranded driver.

The husband, wife and their two young sons – who did not want to be fully identified – were on their way home from a late baseball practice around 11:20 p.m. when they stopped along U.S. Highway 158 with the intention to help the man.

"He was crying, sobbing, saying, 'My mom, my mom she's hurt. Please come help us. She's dying,'" the wife, Liza, said Thursday.

When the husband, Chris, got out to help, the man – later identified by authorities as Demontae Lassiter, 24 – got into the car and took off with Liza and her boys.

"All I could think of was 'I've got to get this car stopped, because the further we go, the worse this is going to get,'" Liza said.

They went for about a quarter mile, she added, before she was able to kick the ignition switch to get the car to shut off.

All the while, she added, the carjacker never said a word and appeared to be in what she thought might be an altered state.

Chris said that, throughout the ordeal, he was helpless.

"It's the most hopeless feeling in the world when you're standing, watching anything and everything in the world to you going away," he said.

At the same time, an off-duty North Carolina State Highway Patrol Officer on his way home from work happened to drive by.

Highway Patrol spokesman First Sgt. Jeff Gordon said the trooper saw Lassiter walking westbound on U.S. 158 and turned around to go check on him.

As the trooper was talking with Lassiter, Chris approached the trooper and told him Lassiter tried to kidnap his wife and their kids.

Warren County Sheriff Johnny Williams said the trooper and Lassiter then were involved in a confrontation and that the trooper used a stun gun to subdue him.

Lassiter was taken to the Warren County jail, where he was being held Thursday evening under a $283,000 bond on charges of resist, delay and obstruction of justice and three counts of kidnapping.

The family, meanwhile, is grateful to be together again and has learned an important lesson.

"We've also promised our kids that we will never stop for anybody else unless we know them," Liza said. "So, we'll pass and call 911."