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Man held woman hostage for 4 days, claiming snipers were outside, charges say

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SALT LAKE CITY — Criminal charges were filed Friday against a Salt Lake man accused of holding his girlfriend hostage for four days.

James Antonio McElrath, 54, is charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, plus aggravated assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, third-degree felonies.

On Tuesday, a woman reported to police that she had been held hostage for four days by McElrather, her live-in boyfriend. “(He) continually sat by the front door holding a knife and a hammer,” according to charging documents, and “kept saying that there were snipers and people were trying to kill him.”

McElrath told the woman “that she is the one who ‘let them in,’” according to the charges.

On Tuesday, the woman awoke to McElrath on top of her, holding a knife to her throat, asking, “Why did you set me up?” the charges state.

The woman attempted to calm McElrath down and convinced him she needed to go to the store to buy milk for their child, according to court documents. McElrath drove her to the store where the woman went inside and called police.

Help is available from the Utah Domestic Violence LINKLine at 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or at