NY woman carjacked, abducted in Pennsylvania speaks out

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016
NY woman carjacked in Pa. speaks out
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Rachel Stephenson's daring escape was caught on camera. She says she knew she had to do something if she wanted to live.

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (WPVI) -- A young woman from New York who was carjacked and kidnapped in eastern Pennsylvania is speaking out about her terrifying experience.

Rachel Stephenson's daring escape was caught on camera, and she tells our sister station WABC-TV that she knew she had to do something if she wanted to live.

"I felt like the whole world got lifted off my shoulders," her father, Brett Stephenson, said.

It is a feeling that he will never forget, after Rachel, 23, called home minutes after making her move.

Surveillance video from the service station where she made her getaway shows her running from the car seconds before the carjacker took off.

And Brett will never forget what he told her.

"Just that I love her, that she was my hero," he said.

Rachel was returning from Greenport, Long Island to graduate school at SUNY Binghampton last Wednesday when police say 18-year-old Raliek Chambers jumped into her car as she was filling it with gas at the Uni-Mart on Prospect and East Brown streets in East Stroudsburg.

"She tried grabbing her kittens, and he grabbed her and told her that she was going for the ride with him," Brett said.

Rachel said that she struggled for two hours to keep calm.

"Several times, I had said, 'You know, I can get out right now, I will not call the police, you can keep my phone, I won't say anything,'" she said. "And he said, 'No, you're my hostage. They won't shoot a young black kid in the car if there's a pretty white girl in the passenger seat.'"

When they stopped for gas near Frackville, Pa., she made a break for it.

"I knew as soon as he let me out of the car, I was just going to to run," she said.

Chambers was later arrested near Harrisburg after a high-speed chase with the Pennsylvania State Police.

"It was the worst time of my whole life," Brett said. "Two hours of sheer panic because I'm 200 miles away from where she was."

For Rachel, it's all still so vivid.

"The thought of getting in my car, like even just thinking about it now, it's really hard," she said tearfully. "If someone had asked me a month ago what I would have done if I was in this sort of situation, I honestly think I would have said that I would be sobbing in the front seat the whole time."

The Stroud Area Regional Police has charged Chambers with Robbery of a Motor Vehicle, Kidnapping for Ransom, Kidnapping to Facilitate a Felony, Receiving Stolen Property, False Imprisonment, Simple Assault, and Unlawful Restraint.

Bail was set at $100,000.