Ripken speaks publicly about 'bizarre' kidnapping

Ripken speaks publicly about 'bizarre' kidnapping

Ripken speaks publicly about 'bizarre' kidnapping
BALTIMORE -- Cal Ripken Jr. returned to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday morning for a news conference in a building overlooking the field which served as a backdrop to much of his Hall of Fame career. But this time, the subject was far from baseball.

Ripken talked about last week's abduction of his mother, Vi Ripken, from her home in Aberdeen. She was taken at gunpoint from her own house on the morning of July 24, tied up and driven throughout the Baltimore area -- in her own car -- before being returned early the following morning near the house. Ripken said that he felt this was a premeditated act and everyone is still trying to figure the motive behind it.

Ripken said he had two purposes for the news conference. First, he wanted to say that his mother, 74, is doing "pretty good" and that the family appreciates the outpouring of support they've received since it happened.

Police have released a composite sketch plus a short video shot that displays the man walking in a Wal-Mart in Glen Burnie, which is in Anne Arundel County and approximately 45-60 minutes from Ripken's mother's home in Aberdeen. They've said he's a white male, about 5-foot-10, 180 pounds.

These sketches and videos have been widely distributed throughout the area and have generated leads, which was the second reason for the press conference. Ripken is hoping to give law enforcement a hand.

"If you know anything about the case; if you know anything about the identity of the person in the photos, the sketch, I would encourage all of you to call in and report what you know," Ripken said. "Law enforcement really does need help in this investigation."

Ripken also called the case bizarre and said he felt this person had an idea what they were doing or had planned something.

"There was some thought given to it," Ripken said. "The materials used to bind her were brought there, so there was a lot of evidence that shows somewhat of a plan ... premeditated is my word."

Ripken said that his mother is continuing to live her life but is not back in the house yet. It's the home he grew up in and means a lot to his mother. The fact that she was abducted right there has clearly shaken her and the rest of the family.

The episode started right there when, on the morning of July 24 a man forced Vi Ripken from her home at gunpoint. She was taken, tied up and driven around in her 1998 Lincoln Town Car. Steve Smith, deputy chief of the Aberdeen Police Department, said they didn't become aware of the situation until around 8 p.m. after hearing something from the nearby Baltimore County Police.

At around 9 p.m., Ripken said his sister called him to say a car with his mother's tags had been reported, and there was a woman tied up in the back seat. They were asked if they knew where their mother was at. They didn't, and the search began.

"It was the worst feeling you could imagine," Ripken said, then needing a moment to collect himself. "I actually physically got in a car and drove around. It would be like finding a needle in a haystack, I suppose. But it made me feel like I was doing something that evening. I think we were hardening ourselves for the worst possibility. I know I was."

But then, just as mysteriously, Vi Ripken was returned around 6 a.m. the following day, about 100 yards from home and without any injuries. The former Oriole said he was thankful that his mother seemed to have been treated in a civil manner.

"I, too, will say it's bizarre," Ripken said. "Mom was taken at gunpoint from her own house. She was tied up and she was driven around. From what we know right now, from what I know, we don't know why. It's bizarre on many levels and it's unsettling on many levels. It's strange to say the least."

Smith said later that in most abductions, it's not uncommon to find out that somebody knows somebody.

"But this isn't that," Smith said. "I've never seen an abduction like this in 34 years of law enforcement."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.