INVERNESS (FOX 13) - The bravery of an 8-year-old kidnapping victim in Citrus County took an incredible twist Friday, when deputies said the little girl's courageous escape may have saved a second life.
Detectives said the child was abducted from her bed in the middle of the night night by a neighbor, Jeffrey Story, who is accused of pulling the victim through her window, taking her to his garage and putting duct tape over her mouth.
The girl was able to escape and get back into her house. Investigators said, as she ran away, Story chased her while threatening to kidnap her again and ship her out of the country if she told anyone. The victim didn't keep quiet and Story was arrested.
His mother, Sherry Davis, was shocked to find out about the accusations.
"Jeff has had mental health issues his whole life," she said. "The family is devastated right now, however our biggest concern is the welfare of this child that he has done this to."
Davis said she now realizes she had no idea how deep her 20-year-old son's issues went.
"Never in a million years would I dream my son was capable of the things that he has done," she said. "The reason he wound up in my home at the age of 20 was because I thought he was changing. He had a girlfriend and a baby. Unfortunately I did not know about what was going on in his head."
But investigators said the would soon learn Davis' relationship with his girlfriend were far from normal -- they were actually violent.
"The defendant would...tie her up, hang her in the garage by her hands and feet, make her stay there for over an hour while he beat her," said Capt. Brad Smith.
Smith said detectives noticed some injuries on the girlfriend as they interviewed her about the kidnapping. She then opened up about all the physical abuse.
Deputies said she may owe her life to the little girl who got away.
"Because of her brave actions and getting away and telling somebody, we were able to conduct this investigation and find another victim and possibly save her life," Smith said.
Investigators said Story denied having any bad intentions with the 8-year-old and told detectives if he really wanted to hurt the child, he'd "do what he did to his [girlfriend]," detectives wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Story is now facing domestic battery charges, in addition to the kidnapping charge.