College student Jordan Dinsmore was recently driving home past midnight when she was kidnapped.
There had been a string of armed robberies, kidnappings, and carjackings near the University of South Carolina campus in July, and this was the seventh incident.
She parked her car in front of her apartment complex, but as she got out, three men emerged from behind a car next to hers and she was pushed down to the ground.
She screamed—and one of the men pointed a gun at her face. The man told her she would get shot if she kept screaming, and the other men took her phone and purse, forcing her back into the car.
But then the men realized none of them could drive a stick shift.
She begged them to take her things and leave, but they refused.
After struggling with the car for some minutes, one man gave up and ran off. The other two forced Dinsmore into the driver’s seat.
One man told her they were going to the ATM, and she would withdraw money to hand over to them.
Dinsmore did not let her panic get the best of her. She is a criminal justice major with dreams of becoming an FBI agent, and she remembered words her mother had drilled into her.
Stay calm. Don’t let them get you alone. Try to escape.
Her mother, Beth Turner, had narrowly avoided being assaulted in college years ago and made sure her daughter knew how to get out of a situation like that.
“If they get you out of the public eye, they’re going to do something worse to you and shoot you anyway,” Dinsmore recalled her mother saying.
As she approached the ATM, an idea clicked: “I’ve got to jump out of this vehicle, I’ve got to get away from these people.”
After withdrawing $300, they were again heading down the street when she tried reasoning with them one last time.
“Would you just let me go? Just drop me off this street.”
But they said no, they were going to bring her back to someone’s aunt’s house, and then she would be raped.
With her heart thudding and adrenaline pumping through her veins, she prayed the men following her wouldn’t notice the moment she attempted to get out of the car.
Dinsmore waited until they got to a stretch of road that had some traffic, so that she wouldn’t be jumping out to nothing and end up helpless again.
“I had to wait for an opportunity where there were no cars behind me and at least one coming toward me, and close enough that I could jump out and have time to recover.”
Then she flung the car door open and leapt out of her car at 35 mph.
She doesn’t remember jumping, she just remembers the singular thought in her head at the time: “Do it, do it, do it.”
She ran towards a gas station, checking back every few yards to make sure they weren’t in pursuit, and that she wasn’t going to get shot.
“Call 911! Call 911! Someone just kidnapped me and threatened to shoot me!” she screamed.
Eventually a woman stopped her car, seeing Dinsmore, and picked her up.
Jordan was shaken as she made her way home, and she couldn’t sleep. She returned to stay at her parents’—they had been worried sick when they got the phone call about her near-abduction.
“The phone conversation started with ‘Your daughter is OK,'” said Joe Dinsmore. “My heart just sunk. It brought up so many scenarios all of which are not good.”
“That’s the part that upsets me. That ‘what if’s.’ And there’s a lot of other parents whose children don’t react the way my daughter did,” he said.
Turner said, “I don’t want any other mother to get the phone call that I got.”
Dinsmore is cooperating with the local law enforcement to catch the perpetrators, and she is so thankful her abductors did not know how to drive a manual transmission.
“I’m going to be driving a manual for the rest of my life,” she said.
Dinsmore has been sharing her story in hopes that it makes a difference. She urges anyone who has been a victim of such crimes to report them, so that security measures can be taken and the campus can be made a safer place.
“Please share your story to help others and to get these places to increase security,” she wrote. “Your children deserve to be safe at their home.”
“This has definitely been a very traumatizing experience, but at least some awareness came out of it,” she wrote. And despite the scare, Dinsmore says it has only solidified her goal of a career in criminal justice.
“Thank you to everyone that has contacted me in support and helped me share my story. I appreciate all of the kind words and honestly my support system is the only thing getting me through this. I love you all.”