Woman flees to gas station after allegedly being held captive for nearly a year

A woman successfully plotted her escape from a man accused of kidnapping her, fleeing to a New Jersey gas station earlier this month after authorities say she was held hostage and subjected to various forms of abuse in multiple states over the course of nearly a year.

The woman, whose name has not been released by law enforcement, broke free on Feb. 7, the New Jersey attorney general’s office said in a news release. Police arrested 57-year-old James W. Parrillo Jr. shortly after. He now faces several criminal charges, including kidnapping, strangulation, aggravated assault and criminal restraint, and is being detained while awaiting trial, according to the attorney general’s office.

Parrillo is accused of abducting the woman at some point in February 2022, when the two met at a gas station along an interstate highway in New Mexico. Citing court documents, the attorney general’s office said the woman told authorities that Parrillo had introduced himself using an alias, Brett Parker, and requested that she drive him to Arizona, which she did. They allegedly entered into a voluntary relationship that lasted for about one month before the woman says Parrillo physically assaulted her for the first time, while they were in California.

The woman told law enforcement that, at the time of the first alleged assault, she was unable to leave the relationship. Parrillo allegedly confiscated the woman’s phone and debit cards, which he used, and isolated her from her family, according to the office of New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, who called the case “deeply disturbing” in a statement.

“The defendant allegedly held a woman against her will for nearly a year, while traveling with her throughout the country, before ending up here in New Jersey where she was able to escape,” said Platkin. “We are reaching out to law enforcement across jurisdictions to identify other people who may have additional information on the defendant. Our investigation is ongoing and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure we bring justice to this survivor.”

Authorities believe that in December Parrillo and the woman arrived in New Jersey, where, for a time, they stayed at a rented residence in Bass River Township, according to the attorney general’s office. The woman escaped after being held in the rented space — a room in a larger residence where others also lived — for about two weeks, according to authorities, who say she fled Parrillo in the midst of a violent physical assault.

“Parrillo began beating and choking her during an argument inside the residence, which they shared with several other individuals,” the attorney general’s office said in Friday’s release. “Parrillo allegedly ceased assaulting the woman when he realized the two were not alone in the house and she ran from the house with nothing on but shorts and a shirt in the 42-degree weather.”

The woman told authorities that she had noticed a deadbolt on the interior side of the entrance door to a gas station near the Bass River rental on a previous day. After escaping Parrillo, the attorney general’s office said she ran to the gas station, locked the door and told an attendant that she had been kidnapped for approximately one year. Security footage shows Parrillo following the woman to the gas station and attempting to open the entrance door before realizing it was locked and leaving the premises, according to the attorney general’s office.

The gas station attendant called in a report to New Jersey State Police, and officers apprehended Parrillo later that day. He is also charged with hindering apprehension, obstruction and refusing to provide a DNA sample, the attorney general’s office said.