Sanford man escapes mental health facility, kidnaps woman

Woman's message in bathroom helps lead to kidnapper

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

SANFORD, Fla. - Police said a man escaped from a mental health facility and kidnapped the woman he had lived with one day after he was accused of attacking her.

Investigators with the Sanford Police Department said Samuel Batson, 43, was admitted to Aspire Health under the Baker Act on Tuesday morning after the initial attack.

They said he escaped from the facility on East 2nd Street early Wednesday and traveled approximately 1 mile to his home, where he said he wanted to end his life. Instead, they said, he forced the woman he lived with into her vehicle and drove north.

Sanford police officers said they were called to the home for a suspected kidnapping at the same time Aspire Heath alerted authorities about a possible escape.

Investigators said they tracked the woman's car using the GPS in her OnStar navigation system.

About one hour later, authorities in Volusia County were alerted to a RaceTrac gas station, where someone found a message written on a restroom mirror, "911 - BLK CHEVY CRUZ/I4 WEST."

Police said they positioned themselves behind the vehicle, which was traveling west on Interstate 4, before OnStar disabled the car's engine. That's when they said they were able to apprehend Batson and take him to the Seminole County Jail.

On Thursday night, his bond was set at $31,000, and if he's able to post that amount, a judge ordered him to wear a GPS monitor and stay away from the woman.

The woman was not injured in Wednesday's incident.

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