James Persyn III was minding his own business, watching MTV’s “Disaster Date,” Wednesday night when a pound came at the front door.
The 14-year-old Shepherd boy lives with his younger sister, Acelin, 11, 2-year-old brother Angus and father, Jim Persyn, at their home on S. Mission Road in Lincoln Township.
On the other side, a girl screaming, the Central Michigan University senior from Grand Rapids who had been abducted at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Student Activity Center. She had jumped out the window of her 2003 Ford Escape, driven by a man, 30-year-old Eric Lee Ramsey, who said he wanted to kill her.
“She screamed ‘help, please help,’” James remembers. “So I let her in and shut the door behind her. She asked me if my parents were home, and I said no, so she said we have to go hide.”
So, James grabbed his younger brother and sister, the family dog and a hunting knife and led the victim to the family’s bathroom, where his father, Jim, had always directed him to go if anything bad happened. He gave her his phone to call 911. He followed with a call to his dad, who had just left to pick up his fiancé.
“I could tell by the tone of his voice that I needed to get home,” Jim said. “I got home in a very short period of time.”
But before Jim could get home, Ramsey tried his best to get into the home. He banged on the door, saying he wanted the victim back and to “let me in.”
“I never really got to see him or anything, but he wanted her back, and we weren’t going to let it happen,” James remembers.
James said the victim told him her arm was broken from jumping out of the vehicle. She was covered in tape, likely from the earlier sexual assault, and he tried peeling it off. He said the victim told him she was at the SAC when she was kidnapped.
“I was petrified and very angry,” James said.
Ramsey then proceeded to spray the home with gas, stored in a pair of containers he plucked from a barn at the S. Crawford Road home in which he allegedly raped her.
Upon arriving home, little to James’ knowledge, Jim found the bottom and front of his house on fire.
When he finally got inside, he found the victim sitting in the bathtub and learned what had happened.
“They said she had been screaming and panicking, but by the time I had got in the house, she was amazingly calm,” Jim said. “You could tell she had been crying, but I think she was shocked and maybe relieved she was safe.”
James, shy and brief with many of his answers, said he’s just happy the victim is OK. Jim went one step further, expressing his gratitude that his children and the woman are still alive.
“You’ve got to move on with life, but this is major,” Jim said. “We’ll be able to fix (the house), but there is siding that is destroyed. Had (James) not called me, and had I not rushed home, I don’t know how much longer it would have took for it all to go up. I could see the glow once I saw my house.”