Fugitive wanted for rape, kidnapping of clerk caught in Springfield

Fugitive wanted for rape, kidnapping of clerk caught in Springfield

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - An Oregon resident's tip led to the capture of a Wichita man wanted in last month's abduction of a convenience store worker, Segdwick County Undersheriff Robert Hinshaw said Wednesday.

Springfield, Ore., police and the U.S. Marshal's Service arrested Robert Abner, 39, late Tuesday night at a Springfield motel, a few hours after authorities received information from an Oregon resident about Abner's possible whereabouts, Hinshaw said.

"To my knowledge, it is the first solid tip, but it only takes one," he said.

Abner is accused of robbing a 48-year-old clerk while she was working at a Viola convenience story on June 23, blindfolding her and forcing her to ride on the floor of the getaway car.

She told authorities that she was held at a home in Wichita until she was released three days later. The woman told authorities that her 300-pound abductor apparently had a change of heart after seeing news reports showing her husband and pastor pleading for her safe return.

Sgt. David Lewis with the Springfield Police Department said that officers there set up surveillance at the motel based on the tip and information from the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

Abner, who is believed to have family and friends in Oregon, checked into the motel on Monday and was still driving the vehicle sought by Kansas authorities.

After Abner returned to his room Tuesday night, Lewis called his room number.

"I just told him I was Sgt. Lewis of the Police Department, there are a lot of police outside and he needs to come out with nothing in his hands," Lewis said in a telephone interview.

Abner surrendered without incident, Lewis said.

"The only thing he said to me was that he was going to stay one more day and then he was going to turn himself in to us. So he knew he was wanted and he didn't want any trouble," Lewis said.

Abner is charged in Sedgwick County District Court with one count of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and six counts of rape.

The Associated Press previously named the woman but has stopped using her name after authorities charged Abner with a sex crime.

A hearing was scheduled for later Wednesday in Oregon. If Abner waives extradition, he could be returned to Kansas within 10 days.

"It is really nice that he was found and that now we are moving to the next stage," Hinshaw said, adding that it doesn't compare with his feeling when the victim was found safe. 

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)