LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Betty Davis thought she had a bomb strapped to her ankle as she drove to an Arkansas bank with a gunman following close behind to make sure she withdrew money. Somehow, she said, she remembered the license plate number of a vehicle she passed.
That key detail, authorities said Thursday, helped investigators find Paul Bradley, the man suspected of breaking into the 73-year-old grandmother's home, duct-taping her husband to a chair and demanding money from the couple.
Bradley, 59, was being held at a local jail on charges of aggravated burglary, theft of property, aggravated robbery and kidnapping, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder said. Helder said Bradley hadn't requested a lawyer as of early Thursday afternoon and county jail records didn't list one.
Investigators said Bradley showed up at the couple's home near Fayetteville in northwest Arkansas on Monday and faked an injury to get inside. He held Davis captive as he duct-taped her husband, Herbert, then strapped what he claimed was a bomb to her ankle, authorities said. The bomb turned out to be fake, but no one knew that at the time.
Bradley told the couple, "All I want is $10,000," Herbert Davis said during a news conference at the sheriff's office in Fayetteville. Bradley also told Betty Davis to write "cows" on the check she was supposed to cash at the bank, she said.
"We were farmers," she explained.
She said Bradley pushed her out the door and told her to drive to the bank. He took a gun from the couple's home, hopped in their pickup truck and followed her, authorities said. She said he pulled her over once to warn her that he'd detonate the bomb if she didn't follow his instructions.
On the way, she saw a vehicle parked along the roadside and made a mental note of the license plate.
"I'd pray and then I'd say that number because ... my memory's not as good as it used to be," she said.
When she got inside the bank, Davis told employees about the device on her ankle. Then she ran outside because she didn't want anyone to get hurt if the bomb blew up.
"I just took a chance," she said.
Authorities evacuated the building and found Herbert Davis taped to a bar stool but unharmed at the couple's home.
Herbert Davis said he tried to free himself from the duct tape and even attempted to dial 911 by holding a pen in his mouth. He said he hit the nine, but "I couldn't get the 1-1."
Betty Davis said she had never met Bradley before he broke into their home, though her husband said he recognized him as a man he saw last week at a local coffee shop.
"He paid for my coffee when he got up and left," he said.
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