RIO BLANCO COUNTY, Colo. — A woman who was kidnapped from Michael Bloomberg's Rio Blanco County ranch was found safe at a Wyoming hotel thanks to a location app on a cellphone and her iPad, an affidavit for the suspect's arrest says.
Joseph Beecher is accused of ramming his truck through the gate of the ranch and kidnapping the woman on Wednesday before he was eventually arrested at a hotel in Cheyenne, where the victim was also found unharmed.
The day prior to the kidnapping on Feb. 1, Beecher was let go from his job as a handyman at an apartment complex, the affidavit says. The next day, his boss returned to his residence and found it had been burglarized. An AR15 rifle and ammunition were missing, according to the affidavit, and he immediately suspected Beecher due to him being fired, the affidavit says.
On Feb. 2, the kidnapping victim was working in the service house at the Westlands Ranch, owned by Bloomberg. Ranch employees discovered the damaged gate and Beecher's truck abandoned in the snow and became concerned when they could not reach the victim and she did not arrive at the main office as expected, the affidavit says. They called the sheriff's office to report the incident.
Around 10:15 a.m., security video shows Beecher's Mazda truck pulling up to a closed gate, which leads to the service house where the victim was working, the affidavit says.
Beecher is seen in the video getting out of the truck and inspecting the gate. He then got back in his truck, according to the affidavit, and used it to ram the open the gate.
Shortly before noon, the video shows the victim driving out in a red Ford F150 with a man in the passenger seat that resembles Beecher, the affidavit says.
The victim's cellphones were found in the service house, but her family reported that she also had a computer and iPad that were not located, the affidavit says.
Investigators later learned that the victim's credit card was used in the Denver metro area for gas, and at a bank to withdraw $500.
Around 12 a.m. on Feb. 3, after a search warrant was obtained, deputies examined cellphone data from the victim and found that a cellphone had an app to locate the victim's iPad. That app showed her iPad was in Cheyenne at the Stagecoach Motel on West Lincoln Way, the affidavit says.
Cheyenne Police went there and located footage of the victim checking in, the affidavit says. A warrant was issued and Cheyenne SWAT officers entered the room where Beecher was staying and took him into custody and rescued the victim, the document says.
She stated that she had been kidnapped and taken against her will, the affidavit says.
She reported that Beecher told her she was "not free to leave" multiple times and was armed with multiple weapons, the affidavit says.
The victim reported that she was working alone in the upstairs bedroom of the service house when Beecher came up behind her, the affidavit says. He was pointing a "machine gun" at her face and told her he would "shoot her face-off," the affidavit says.
She reported that Beecher then asked about the whereabouts of Michael Bloomberg's daughters, and the victim replied that they were not there, the document says. During her time with Beecher, the victim reported that he went on "rants" about Bloomberg. She also told authorities that Beecher had attempted to find Bloomberg at the airport in Meeker in early July and wanted to make "an international scene" with him or his daughters, the document says.
Beecher asked her about her truck and then told her she would be driving him around and told her to get in the truck, the affidavit says. The victim's iPad was taken and placed in a bag, which she carried while Beecher "carried the guns," the affidavit says.
She reported that she did not know or recognize Beecher but complied with his demands out of fear, the document says.
The victim said they stopped at a gas station in Meeker and she pumped gas and reported that she was told that if she made any attempt to get help would result in him "shooting everybody at the gas station," the affidavit says. She said the thought Beecher would kill her and tried to act friendly toward him to 'calm him down," according to the document.
At one point during the trip, she reported, that he would not hurt her but was "going to be with him for a couple of days," the affidavit says.
She reported that they stopped for gas again near Colorado Mills in Golden and was forced to withdraw money from an ATM, the affidavit says. As she withdrew the money, she said she was mouthing the words, "help me," hoping that it would be recorded.
Once in Wyoming, she said, Beecher forced her to check into the hotel alone under the names "Sam and Heather" and told her that he could "shoot people from a distance," the affidavit says.
Shortly after they got into their hotel room, the Cheyenne SWAT team entered the room and took Beecher into custody. They also found an AR15 rifle in the room, according to the affidavit. The victim was rescued and reunited with her family.
Beecher is being held in the Laramie County jail on the following charges:
- Second-degree kidnapping
- aggravated robbery
- Felony menacing
He also faces criminal mischief and trespassing charges related to the incident on Feb. 1 involving his former employer.
The Bloombergs were not at the ranch at the time of the kidnapping, but are cooperating with the investigation, according to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office. Beecher has no known connection with the Bloomberg family, the agency said.
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