ABERDEEN — Cal Ripken Jr.’s 74-year-old mother was found with her hands bound in the back seat of her car Wednesday after being kidnapped at gunpoint a day earlier at her home outside Baltimore and driven around blindfolded by her abductor, police and neighbors said.
Investigators do not know the kidnapper’s motive and there was no ransom demand for Vi Ripken’s release, Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert said at a news conference.
The gunman forced Ripken into her silver Lincoln Continental between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Tuesday, police said. She was found unharmed but shaken about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday near her home in Aberdeen, about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.
When asked if police believe the kidnapper knew who he was abducting, Trabert did not answer, saying police don’t know the motive or if the suspect any ties to the Ripken family.
“This case is still brand new,” Trabert said.
Hall of Fame infielder Cal Ripken Jr. earned the nickname “Iron Man” for playing in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year career with the Baltimore before voluntarily ending the streak in 1998.
Next-door neighbor Gus Kowalewski said he spoke with Vi Ripken later Wednesday morning. The 72-year-old retired autoworker said Ripken told him the gunman tied her hands and put a blindfold on her, but said he wouldn’t hurt her.
“He lit cigarettes for her, they stopped for food,” Kowalewski said. “He said, ‘I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to take you back,’ and that’s what he did.”
Kowalewski said Ripken told him the gunman originally planned to put tape over her eyes.
“But he didn’t do that because she said ‘please don’t do that ’cause I’m claustrophobic,'” he said.
Instead, the gunman put some type of mask or blinders on her, and she could see somewhat out the sides, he said.
Investigators determined that Ripken was missing Tuesday night after talking to another police department.
“This has been a very trying time for our family, but we are grateful and relieved that mom is back with us, safe and healthy,” the Ripken family said in a statement. “We want to thank everyone for their tremendous support, especially all of the law enforcement agencies that worked so hard and quickly.”
Cal Ripken retired in 2001. His brother, Bill, played second base in the major leagues. The two were managed for a time on the Orioles by their father and Vi Ripken’s husband, Cal Ripken Sr., who died in 1999.