The Times-Picayune: NEW ORLEANS -- A Lacombe man and his daughter hatched an unusual practical joke to entertain themselves as they drove down Interstate 12: tie the girl's hands, duct-tape her mouth, and watch the startled expressions as their fellow drivers noticed the apparent kidnapping in progress.
It was apparently a very realistic depiction. But the man's fellow motorists, who boxed the pickup in until law enforcement arrived, and the deputies who arrested him weren't laughing.
Tim Williams, 45, was returning to St. Tammany Parish with his 12-year-old daughter after picking her up from his ex-wife at the Texas state line Wednesday afternoon when the two came up with the idea, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Cpl. Sean Beavers said. During the stunt, duct-tape was used to bind the girl's hands and cover her mouth, Beaver said.
"I don't know who in their right mind would want to play at a child abduction with their 12-year-old daughter," he said.
It's unclear when the two first started the stunt, but at least three motorists called 9-1-1 to report an abduction after seeing the girl bound and gagged in the front seat of the pickup about 3:50 p.m. as the vehicle passed the Louisiana 1077 exit on I-12, Beavers said. Deputies rushed to the highway as several motorists surrounded the truck in an attempt to keep the supposed kidnapper from getting away, he said.
The patrol cars caught up with Williams at the Louisiana 59 exit and learned it was all a prank when they pulled Williams over, Beavers said.
Because of the severity of the situation, Williams was booked into the St. Tammany Parish jail in Covington with criminal mischief and contributing to the delinquency of a minor before being released later in the day on a $3,000 bond. His daughter, who was not identified because she is a juvenile, was cited for criminal mischief and released to the care of an uncle, Beavers said.
"Their lives were put in danger as well as the lives of the general public," Beavers said. "Anything could have happened over that prank. That's why we felt he needed to go to jail for that, too many lives were put in danger to let him go on his way."
Though the situation ended up being far less serious than it initially appeared, Beavers said he was grateful for the keen eyes of the motorists on I-12 and said such alertness could prevent a tragedy in the future.
"Even though it was a false alarm, I'm very glad the public called us and I want them to continue to call us," Beavers said. Even though this was a prank, it could easily not have been."
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