Sheriff: Had victim not jumped out of car, 'she would not be alive right now'

Photo Courtesy of Gaylord Herald Times The sanitation truck owned by Gaylord's Arrow Sanitation stolen by the suspect, Eric Lee Ramsey was used to ram two state police vehicles and a Crawford County Sheriff's Department vehicle early Thursday morning.

A senior from the Grand Rapids area is safe after being abducted at gunpoint outside the Student Activity Center, sexually assaulted and her life threatened Wednesday night.

The suspect, Mount Pleasant resident Eric Lee Ramsey, 30, is dead after leading police on a chase through northern Michigan that ended in Gaylord. He was shot and killed by a Crawford County deputy after ramming the deputy’s vehicle with a stolen sanitation truck.

"Last night we had an incident that originated on Central Michigan University's campus which involved a kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, arson, attempted murder, a stolen vehicle and also a weapons offense," said Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski.

The student, whose name has not been disclosed, was walking to her vehicle in the SAC parking lot at approximately 9:30 p.m. when a man approached her at gunpoint. Ramsey forced himself into her 2003 Ford Escape and made her drive to a home on South Crawford Road.

There, police say, the suspect bound her with tape and sexually assaulted her. He then put her back into the car and proceeded to collect two gas cans from a barn behind the home.


Police say the victim leaped from the moving vehicle and ran to a nearby residence after Ramsey told her he planned to kill her.

"There's no doubt in my mind that had the victim not jumped out of that car, she would not be alive right now," Mioduszewski said. "I think that's why he got the gasoline. I feel comfortable saying she made the right decision jumping out of that car."

The victim ran to a nearby home on South Mission Road and banged on the door until she was let in.

"Fortunately, the individuals at the residence let her in and locked the door and she got on the phone with 9-1-1," Mioduszewski said.  "Central Dispatch received a 9-1-1 call from a CMU student who said she had been kidnapped and ended up jumping out of a car and thinks she may have had a broken arm."

Ramsey then parked the car and began dousing the house with gasoline and lit it on fire before fleeing the scene. The home owner arrived soon after and was able to put out the flames before severe damage had been down to the property.

An area broadcast was put out to local law enforcement agencies in the lower peninsula, advising them of the situation with a description of the suspect and vehicle.

"Several hours later we received a call from regional dispatch in Gaylord, advising us that the vehicle rammed one of the state police troopers out of the Gaylord post," Mioduszewski said. "A short chase ensued; unfortunately the state trooper's car was too damaged to proceed much longer."

Police say Ramsey drove off into a field early Thursday morning, where he abandoned the victim's car and fled on foot to a nearby sanitation truck. He stole the truck and drove southbound on Old 127, where he rammed a second state police trooper.

A Crawford County sheriff's deputy spotted the vehicle near Fredric and, after the sanitation truck made contact with the third police car, the deputy stepped out and fired shots and killed Ramsey.

"Our prayers are with our CMU student involved in this incident," Mioduszewski said. "We are extremely grateful that she is secure this morning and with her family. The entire CMU community stands ready to help and support both her and her family in any way possible."

The abduction was random, police say, and Ramsey had no connection with the victim prior to the incident, targeting her as a lone person he could overpower with his firearm.

Evidence was collected from the residence where the sexual assault occurred and an investigation is still in progress. Police are unaware if drugs or alcohol were involved.

"It happened so quick, we don't know much more," Mioduszewski said. "There's going to be a lot more investigation on our end, as well as already underway in the Gaylord and Grayling areas."

University President George Ross released a statement Thursday morning to the CMU community.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the CMU student involved in last night’s horrible crime. We are thankful that she is secure and receiving the care she needs with her family. The entire CMU community stands ready to help and support her and her family in whatever ways possible,” Ross said.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, Ramsey is paroled out of Isabella County and has a criminal past including malicious destruction of property, resisting and assaulting a police officer, assault with intent to harm and felonious assault.

-University Editor Catey Traylor contributed to this report.

Keep checking for more on this developing story.

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