MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Federal prosecutors charged James Sarff with interstate kidnapping, saying he forcibly abducted his estranged wife from her apartment in the middle of the night and fled with her to Mexico.
According to the complaint filed Monday, Connie Sarff told authorities that she lost consciousness while trying to bang on a neighbor's door for help. The next thing she knew, she was waking up on the floorboard in the back seat of her husband's Jeep Grand Cherokee in what she believed to be Albuquerque, N.M.
James Sarff, 50, is accused of dragging Connie Sarff, 49, naked from her Long Prairie apartment in central Minnesota around 4 a.m. Feb. 19, leaving blood in the snow outside and setting off an extensive search.
Authorities believe she was knocked unconscious and then driven directly to Mexico, where they spent the next two weeks, staying in hotels and sometimes in their car. A U.S. Customs agent at Douglas, Ariz., spotted the two March 4 walking across the Arizona border from Agua Prieta, Mexico, and apprehended him.
Connie Sarff said they traveled throughout northern Mexico from Ciudad Juarez to Naco, Sonora. She was reluctant to tell Mexican authorities about her situation because she feared they would not believe her and that James Sarff would abuse her again, the complaint said.
James Sarff has a history of domestic abuse against his wife, including a beating more than 20 years ago that left her so badly hurt doctors had to remove a kidney.
The couple had been separated about 18 months. She recently decided to end the marriage, and divorce papers arrived in his mail only hours after he allegedly abducted her.
James Sarff remained in custody in Arizona on Monday and was expected to make his initial appearance soon before a U.S. magistrate judge in Tucson, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Following federal hearings in Arizona, he will be transferred back to Minnesota to face the federal kidnapping charges.
Sarff also faces state kidnapping charges. The federal charges carry stiffer penalties.
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