Caught on camera: Mother tries to rescue children from car thief

by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. —

Jung Do does not speak English. But she didn't need to understand the words to realize the terror a young mother was experiencing in front of her barber shop.

On Feb. 28 just after 5 p.m., that young mom pulled up to the "We Buy Gold" store on Pacific Highway South and South 336th Street in Federal Way. 

A disheveled woman in her 40s approached her truck and said something about needing a ride, but kept walking. She got to the store's door, and opened it for the mother, who had left her truck running with her 5- and 2-year-old daughters inside. 

As soon as the mother stepped forward, the older woman ran over to the car, jumped in, and locked the doors. 

Jung Do watched the mother clawing at the door handle, with no success.   "She was crying, she was mad," Do told KIRO 7 through an interpreter.

Surveillance video shows the scene that caught Do's attention.  As the suspect threw the car into reverse and sped away, the young mother tried to run and catch it.  She couldn't.  She turned around, hysterical and yelling for help. That is all the video shows.

But recently released court documents describe what happened next. The suspect, 49-year-old Natalie Merriam Hulme, allegedly drove about 10 miles away to Meeker Street in Kent. 

Something went wrong with the truck, and she brought it to a stop right by Riverbend Golf Course.  She threw open the door and started walking around in rush hour traffic. 

Alan Leeder was driving by and saw the truck with its door open and two little girls inside. He instinctively knew to slow down because he sensed something was wrong.  Some golfers approached the truck, and the five year old inside told them a "mean woman" had stolen them from their mom. 

The golfers started yelling to Leeder.  "'Yeah, you need to stop her,'" he heard them shout, "'That woman abducted these kids.'         

He got out of his car and started after her, as she weaved through stopped traffic.  "She was like pulling on door handles, trying to get into several cars."           

She finally found one with an unlocked door and climbed in. Inside, was a pregnant woman, and the suspect sat on her, then started hitting her in the stomach. Leeder grabbed the suspect and pulled her out of the car and onto the sidewalk. He said her mouth was foaming and she was "out of it."   

Police were on the scene very quickly and arrested the suspect.  The young mother identified her and was reunited with her children.     

Alan is a father himself and says he's happy he could be a hero.  "It felt really good to see that the kids were safe," he said.

Natalie Merriam Hulme has a record, including hit and run, forgery, and theft.  Now she faces kidnapping and motor vehicle theft charges; her bail was set at $200,000.