“Lifesaving Awards” will be presented to two Shepherd children for their acts that saved the life of a Central Michigan University student who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted last week.
Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski said if it wasn’t for James Persyn III, 14, and his younger sister, Acelin Persyn, 11, opening their front door, the Grand Rapids senior would not be alive today.
“It’s just amazing what they were able to do,” Mioduszewski said. “Typically, we teach young people not to open the door to strangers, and, in this case, it’s what saved her life.”
Mioduszewski said the award, which isn’t handed out often, is an honor that James and Acelin are more than worthy of.
“Someone has to go above and beyond what a normal person does to save a life,” he said. “There’s no question that these two kids deserve this award.”
Mioduszewski will present the awards at the Isabella County Board of Commissioners meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 5. The meeting, which is open to the public, will take place in the Board of Commissioner’s room on the second floor of the Isabella County Building, 200 N. Main St.
“We encourage anyone to come who wants to give those two kids a pat on the back,” Mioduszewski said. “We invite people there to come and thank them for their effort.”
As previously reported by Central Michigan Life, James, Acelin and their 2-year-old brother, Angus, were at their home on S. Mission Road when they heard a girl screaming outside.
The student, a Grand Rapids senior, had been kidnapped at gunpoint from the parking lot of the Student Activity Center and sexually assaulted by 30-year-old Eric Lee Ramsey, who said he wanted to kill her.
She had jumped out the window of her 2003 Ford Escape and ran to the Persyn home.
“She screamed ‘help, please help,’” James previously told CM Life. “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.”
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 said.
Ramsey then proceeded to spray the home with gasoline, 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.
Editor-in-Chief Aaron McMann contributed to this article.