Abducted Kennewick woman found dead

By: Associated Press , KIRO 7 News Staff

Updated:

KENNEWICK, Wash. - A Kennewick woman whom the FBI and local law enforcement agencies were looking for after she was abducted from her home and a ransom was demanded was found dead Sunday.

Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin said 69-year-old Sandra Harris was taken Friday by someone she knew. Lattin said her abductor then used Harris' cellphone to call her husband at work to demand an undisclosed amount of money in exchange for her return.

On Sunday at about 11:48 a.m., deputies with the Benton County Sheriff's Office responded to a call of a body found off of Coffin Road, about two-miles east of I-82. 

Initial information was that a driver who was traveling westbound on Coffin Road, towards I-82, saw a body lying on the side of the road and called 911. 

Deputies arrived and found the body of a woman lying in the brush, just off of the road, on the north side of Coffin Road.  During the investigation, the Benton County Coroner's Office identified the body of that of as 69-year-old Sandra Harris.

It is not yet known how she died.

After the abduction Friday, local and federal law enforcement agencies contacted a kidnapper and negotiated for several hours, ultimately agreeing to pay the ransom.

Authorities made the money exchange just before 10 p.m. near the town of Eltopia, and shortly after they arrested a suspect: 49-year-old Theresa Wiltse of Connell, Washington.

Wiltse was driving a rental car with California plates, according to a statement from police, and she was the only person in the car.

Wiltse is being held in the Benton County jail without bond on suspicion of kidnapping. It wasn't immediately clear if she had retained an attorney.

"There's possibly another suspect or suspects involved, or it's possible she acted alone," Lattin said. He said they didn't know what condition Harris is in or where she might be.

Abductions for ransom are rare in the United States.

"They are unusual for us here as well," Lattin said. "I've been here 28 years, our chief has been here 35 years plus, and that's not something that has happened during our lifetime here in Kennewick."

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