Jessup man seized in extortion scheme

December 15, 1990

A fired employee pretended to kidnap his former boss' wife and children and demanded $1,500 in ransom yesterday, Howard County police said.

The man called the wife of Rick Garhart about 4:15 p.m. and told her that her husband had been in a car accident in Towson, said Sgt. Gary Gardner, a police spokesman.

The caller, who identified himself as a police officer, told Joanne Garhart, 29, to come to Towson State University to pick up her husband. She then packed up her two children, ages 3 and 5, and drove there, Sergeant Gardner said.

The man then called Mr. Garhart and said he had kidnapped his wife and children and had tied them to a tree. He demanded that a $1,500 ransom be delivered to a Jessup gas station within 10 minutes.

Mr. Garhart called police, then drove to the gas station with the money. As he arrived with a police car behind him, a man ran from the station.

Police captured a suspect in a liquor store in the 7700 block of U.S. 1.

Charged with attempted extortion in the case is Weldon William Ward, 25, of Jessup.

Mr. Ward said that he had not kidnapped Mr. Garhart's family.

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