Richland man gets 6 years for kidnapping woman, putting her in trunk of car

December 13, 2013 

— A 45-year-old Richland man accused of holding a Yakima woman in the trunk of a car was sentenced to six years in prison Friday in Yakima County Superior Court.

Rodney John Wheeler pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping last month, a move that abruptly ended his trial.

Wheeler was accused of taking his ex-girlfriend’s daughter from her home on Oct. 25, binding her hands and feet and stuffing her mouth with a rag. He placed her in the trunk of a car that he then parked near the Yakima Air Terminal. Police found the woman still in the trunk two hours later.

Investigators said that after Wheeler put the woman in the trunk, he used her cellphone to text her mother, who lives in Benton City. Her mother then called police, who in turn found Wheeler behind her daughter’s home with her daughter’s cell phone. Wheeler then led police to the car, which was in a nearby parking lot.

Wheeler, who had no criminal history, told police he was just tying to get his ex-girlfriend to listen to him.

His defense attorney, Paul Kelley, said Wheeler suddenly entered a guilty plea after he realized that people involved in the case were hurt by his actions. He decided he didn’t want to put them through any more difficulty, Kelley said.

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