Witness to terrifying kidnap attempt on how screams alerted her to victim’s plight
A young mother has broken her silence to describe the desperate screams of a woman trying to escape from the clutches of her kidnapper.
Not wanting to be identified, we’ve called her Elaine — her home a stone’s throw away from where predator Jeffrey Kelly was wrestling with his victim (23) who was making her way home from a morning walk.
“I was lying on top of the bed flicking through the phone and I heard screaming coming from outside.
“At first I was like, ‘It’s only kids out playing,’ but I heard it for a second time and I thought, ‘No that’s not right’,’’ she says.
“I looked out the window and could see where the screams were coming from. It was clearly someone in distress and I could hear, ‘Help, someone help me, get off me, please get off me, someone help’.
“It was the type of scream that would make any person stand up and go, ‘Something’s not right’. I just knew.”
Elaine jumped up and looked out the bedroom window.
“I could see a car had been backed up to the walkway, at a very unusual angle. There wouldn’t normally be cars there,’’ she says.
“I could see a man, dressed all in black, standing at the boot of a car, and he was slamming the boot closed, but the boot came back up and a foot came out, and he tried to slam the boot down again.
“It just wouldn’t close. It was the minute I saw the foot, and put it together with the screaming, that I knew there was someone in the back of that car. It was an automatic sinking in my stomach feeling.”
Elaine soon came face-to-face with would-be kidnapper Kelly.
“I ran downstairs with my phone in my hand, calling 999.
“When I opened the front door and got onto the top of the step, his car was just coming to the top of the cul-de-sac,’’ she says.
“He stopped, looked left, looked right at me, I looked right at him. I looked straight into his eyes in the car. I could see he was panicking and there was something sinister.
“I had a sheer feeling of just wanting to be sick because I didn’t know that she was out of that boot.
“As far as I knew she was still in there.
“Why did I just stand at the bottom of the steps? Why didn’t I run after the car?”
Elaine was in the dark about Kelly’s capture for a while.
“Whenever police cordoned off the area, the inspector came up to have a chat with me.
“The first thing I asked was, ‘Did he (Kelly) get her?’, he said, ‘No’. So I spent that time physically sick, thinking she was in the boot of that car,’’ she recalls.
“I have a daughter of my own and all I could think was, that was someone’s child.
“It didn’t matter how old she was, at the end of the day it was someone’s child in the boot of that car.
“All I could think of was where was he taking her, what is he going to do? Just hearing the officer say ‘She was ok, she got out’. It was like the weight of the world being lifted off my shoulders.
“I don’t really think it bears thinking about what could have happened to her.”
What happened in this normally quiet neighbourhood in Portadown has made Elaine think again.
“This all happened during lockdown and I was very into my running. I haven’t gone out since.
“I don’t like the thoughts of my daughter going out on her own, she would have cycled up and down to the postbox but not any more. I wouldn’t let her do it,’’ she admits.
The outcome of this case comes amid the ongoing debate about violence against women following a number of murders.
“It’s unfair to go out and say all men are the same and you need to be very wary of every man you pass in the street, that’s not fair, but I do think every woman out there needs to have a duty of care around their own safety,’’ adds Elaine.
“And if you are going out, make sure someone knows where you are. Be ready to kick and scream as much as you can.
“That’s the only reason I knew something had happened, because she did kick, scream and shout.
“If she hadn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have seen what was going on.”