Attempted kidnapping suspect uses Snapchat to track down victim before attacking her: court docs

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Sunday, October 22, 2023
Man uses Snapchat to find victim before trying to kidnap her: docs
Attempted kidnapping suspect Evan William Blankenship allegedly used location sharing on the Snapchat app to find his victim in North Carolina.

A 22-year-old man is accused of using Snapchat's location-sharing feature to try to kidnap a woman and another person on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, according to an indictment filed in federal court, WSOC reported.

Evan William Blankenship, of Whittier, North Carolina, drove to the Water Rock Knob Overlook on Sept. 28 and pointed a pistol at the two who were in a parked vehicle, according to court documents.

The indictment says he tried to pull the woman out of the car by her hair, then threatened both before hitting the woman in the face, which caused her to temporarily lose her hearing. He also allegedly fired the gun into the air.

According to federal court documents, a second victim convinced Blakenship to let them go.

The woman said she knew the assailant through Snapchat and he used the app's Snap Map feature to find her on the Blue Ridge Parkway, according to the indictment.

WSOC spoke with some people who often use the popular social app.

Jim Kalogeros said he shares his Snapchat location with friends.

"Obviously being long-distance, we rely a lot on social media and texting and Snapchat just to make sure we are talking all the time," Kalogeros said.

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However, Kalogeros said he will now think twice about his app's location tracking.

"I may actually change my settings. It's stuff you don't really think about," he said.

Alyssa Carfagno said she keeps her location private after a close call.

"I had somebody show up to a bar and then one day, and then multiple times, and other places, just hopping around and magically being at the same place as me," Carfagno said.

Melanie Hempe promotes social media safety through her nonprofit Screenstrong.

"It always starts with someone who they think is like them, or a friend," Hempe told WSOC. "That never starts with someone who has a big sign across their chest that says 'I'm a predator. I'm out to get you.'"

She suggests teens only share their smartphone location with relatives.

Hempe also encourages families to talk about safety and consider limiting their social media usage.

Blankenship was arrested on Oct. 11.

He was charged with kidnapping, two counts of assault with intent to commit a felony, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm and possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Blankenship was indicted Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Charlotte. He is in federal custody.

"While we can't comment on active cases, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our community," Snapchat commented.

Snap Map is off by default, a spokesperson pointed out. Users must opt-in to the feature.