Social Media Used to Hunt Suspected Kidnapper

Wall Photos by Washington County Sheriffs Office
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When a desperate woman ran into a store in Aloha, Ore., saying she'd just escaped a man who kidnapped her, cops had a hundred people on the case in an instant.

A tweet on the Washington County Sheriff's Office's Twitter page Saturday alerted the department's more than 100 followers: "We are lookiong [sic] for this man in Aloha. His girlfriend just escaped from him and said he had kidnapped her. He is..."

The Twitter update included a link that led to the Washington County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page, where they posted a mug shot of the suspect, 27-year-old Raymond Hetman from Eugene, Ore.

The woman, Hetman's girlfriend, said he kidnapped and assaulted her, and forced her to drive from Eugene to Aloha, police said.

Hetman, a convicted felon who was recently released from prison, is also wanted on an unrelated felony warrant from the State Parole Board, according to the release posted on their Facebook page.

"The female victim told deputies that Mr. Hetman physically assaulted her several times yesterday and last night," the release said.

"When they got to Aloha they slept in the car overnight and this morning the victim escaped," the police statement said. "She ran to the Postal Annex and called 911."

Police said they thought Hetman was likely still in the area and probably on foot or riding public transportation, since they had recovered the woman's car.

In addition to the photo, the sheriff's department provided a description of the suspect, and also the warning to anyone who might see Hetman not to "attempt to contact him," but instead to call 911.

Like many police departments around the country, the Washington County Sheriff's office has been using social media as a police blotter since they launched their Facebook page in the summer of 2009, and has occasionally used it in manhunts and to inform their more than 2,000 Facebook fans and more than 100 Twitter followers of arrests made in the area.

While frequently posting mug shots of the recently arrested and sharing press releases, the office also posted still photos from a security camera of a robbery attempt at a local bank, and news coverage of local court trials.

The office's Facbook wall has also become a sounding board for the community to voice complaints and concerns with the police department, or to ask questions of the department or other members of the community.

Speaking with ABCNews.com, Washington County Sergeant Dave Thompson said that the department regularly checks in on the page to see if any tips have been left by members of the community. He also said that the office has been posting pictures of at-large suspects since they page was launched last year.

In June 2008 the web was successfully used in a similar fashion as a tool to capture a group of masked bank robbers in North Texas.

BanditTracker.com, a website that displays images of armed robbers pulled from security cameras, shared images of the seven-man crew, known as the "Scarecrow Bandits," with the public. A public tip eventually led to their arrest.

Since then, similar sites have spread to cities across the country, from Arkansas to the northeast with BanditTracker Northeast, which launched for the New York and New Jersey area in March.

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