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Victim in alleged Salt Lake kidnapping describes hourslong ordeal

Leslie Wilkey, pictured here, describes being kidnapped at gunpoint earlier this month.
Leslie Wilkey, pictured here, describes being kidnapped at gunpoint earlier this month.
Michael Radice, KSL

SALT LAKE CITY — Leslie Wilkey's mind was on melting groceries when she parked her SUV at her daughter's apartment complex Friday evening.

Within moments, Wilkey says, the angry demands of an armed teenage boy would have the grandmother of six fearing for her life on a winding drive through Salt Lake and harrowing trip to eastern Utah.

Wilkey was finishing up a day of errands, including an oil change and grocery shopping, when she stopped her vehicle near 1625 S. Foothill Drive, turned off the engine and took a moment to send a text message.

"And as I turn and look, there's this young man and I have no idea who he is," Wilkey recalled Thursday. "And I just freeze."

The boy who approached her, 17-year-old Dallas Kochamps, is charged with kidnapping Wilkey for several hours as he allegedly drove her through Salt Lake and later had her journey to Vernal at the threat of death.

When Wilkey came face to face with Kochamps, he asked for a ride, she said. She refused. When he asked for a lift twice more and Wilkey again refused, she said the boy threw his arm into the doorway and pulled out a gun.

"He says, 'You could make this easy or make this hard. Scoot over; move over," Wilkey said.

Wilkey complied. She described the moments that followed as a feeling of total shock and denial.

"I can't believe it's happening to me," she remembers thinking. "This can't be true. This cannot be real. … I just sat there, staring straight out the front window."

Wilkey and police say Kochamps threatened several times to kill the woman, saying he wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet in her. Kochamps was found with a loaded gun when officers apprehended him, according to charging documents. He also took Wilkey's cell phone from her, charges state.

The teen began driving erratically and said he wanted to go to Vernal because he was "wanted" locally, Wilkey said. She played dumb and pretended not to know how to get there. Kochamps took her to multiple ATMs, she said, and asked her to withdraw cash, eventually getting $200 at a 7-Eleven.

After about 3 ½ hours of driving and a trip to a McDonald's drive-thru, Kochamps began driving in the direction of Vernal, Wilkey said. She remembers thinking of her loved ones and worrying about what would happen to her.

Kochamps reportedly said he would leave her in Vernal, but had also mentioned going to Denver.

"(I was) mostly thinking about my husband and my family … picturing them in my mind to help me keep going and keep focused," Wilkey said.

In the meantime, Wilkey's husband and children grew worried after not hearing from her for several hours.

Scott Wilkey was expecting his wife home around 5:30 p.m., and after hours of unanswered calls, he decided to call police just after 10 p.m. It's not typical of his wife, he said, to be unreachable for hours at a time or give no notice of where she's going.

"By then I'm thinking, 'OK, maybe something else has happened,'" Scott Wilkey said.

At 1:30 a.m., Scott Wilkey finally received a call from Uintah County. His wife had been kidnapped but escaped without a scratch.

Kochamps asked Leslie Wilkey to drive shortly after the two stopped for gas in Heber City, she said.

In Uintah County, she was pulled over for speeding by a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer. Leslie Wilkey said she hadn't purposely grabbed the attention of police, but once she saw the cop car change directions on the highway, she decided, "We're just going to keep going (faster) and see what happens."

The officer pulled her over and sensed the two were an odd pair, she said. He asked her to get out of the SUV, and she told him Kochamps was armed and had taken her against her will.

Leslie Wilkey was in so much fear that she struggled to find the right words to tell the officer, she said. Once the officer knew what was happening, 'he said hastily, 'Get in my car,'" she said.

Leslie Wilkey knew she was safe when she got inside the police vehicle and had a surreal reunion with her family a few hours later.

"I couldn't cry yet. I was still frozen," she said. "But very big smiles, big hugs."

Contributing: Nicole Vowell

Email: blockhart@deseretnews.com

Twitter: benlockhartnews