Traffic stop of U-Haul in Prince George’s Co. leads to discovery of kidnapped woman

A Prince George’s County man was arrested Friday night after police say he kidnapped a woman in D.C. and then drove her around and assaulted her in a U-Haul truck during a day-long drive through the D.C. and Maryland area.

Authorities discovered the woman after an attempted traffic stop of the U-Haul led to a brief police chase Friday night and the driver of the U-Haul, 62-year-old Dennis Bell, of Lanham, Maryland, ran into a ditch, according to Maryland State Police.

According to a Maryland State Police news release, Bell faces 14 criminal charges, including first degree assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, fourth degree sex offense, possession of suspected cocaine and driving while impaired. He also faces 19 traffic charges related to the incident.

Police said the woman told them she encountered Bell at a convenience store on Minnesota Avenue in Southeast D.C. Friday morning and he pushed her into the U-Haul truck. The victim told police that Bell threatened her life if she didn’t comply with his demands.

Bell reportedly drove around all day with the victim sitting on the floorboards in the front seat, police said. The victim told officials that Bell removed all her clothing and used a pocket knife to stab her fingers. She said she did not know where she was while Bell was driving the truck.

Police received multiple calls around 9:45 p.m. from motorists reporting a U-Haul truck driving erratically and hitting multiple parked vehicles around Princess Garden Parkway in Lanham.

Maryland State Police located the U-Haul truck on Route 450 in Lanham and attempted a felony traffic stop. Police said Bell refused to stop, and the pursuit continued until the truck got stuck in a ditch at the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Elm Street in Lanham.

According to officials, Bell refused to exit the vehicle after two troopers made multiple verbal requests. The troopers were able to enter the U-Haul truck through the passenger side window and discovered the unclothed victim sitting on the floor of the front seat with apparent wounds.

Officers immediately rescued the woman and covered her with a jacket before first responders transported her to the hospital.

Bell was arrested before officials transported him to the hospital. The department said he is currently held at the Upper Marlboro Department of Corrections.

Police ask any witnesses to the alleged kidnapping to contact the Criminal Enforcement Division or Maryland State Police at the College Park Barrack.

Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

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