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Kidnapping of Cal Ripken Jr.'s mother still a puzzle to police

Photo of man suspected of kidnapping Vi Ripken, mother of baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.; she was found unharmed CBS Baltimore/Aberdeen, Md. Police Dept.

(CBS/AP) ABERDEEN, Md. - As details emerge about the one-day kidnapping ordeal of the mother of baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., the curious circumstances surrounding Vi Ripken's abduction at gunpoint largely remain a mystery.

The 74-year-old woman was found bound but unharmed in her car Wednesday morning, having been left in her silver Lincoln Continental near her house in Aberdeen, Md., police said.

Investigators say the kidnapper forced her into her car and drove her through central Maryland for almost 24 hours, CBS Baltimore reported.

"Had a gun and mask and gloves on. She couldn't recognize him. He tied her up and put a mask on her and then told her to get in the car. He wanted her in the car," said Gus Kowaleski, friend and neighbor.

Despite a huge police presence, the gunman was able to drop her off just a few doors down from where he took her, where she waved her sweater at a neighbor, according to CBS Baltimore.

"Her back legs were in the back seat, and she had managed to get between the two front seats. The front, driver's side window was down at that point. She was able to wave to us," said Erik Snyder, the neighbor who found her.

"We are looking at every witness, ever clue. For us to speculate on a motive would be unfair," said Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert.

Ripken described her abductor as a tall, thin white man with glasses wearing camouflage clothing, but police had few other details and didn't give a motive Thursday, though they did release photos of the suspect.

Ripken told a neighbor that her kidnapper didn't seem to know her son is the Hall of Fame infielder with the nickname "Iron Man" for playing in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles.

Investigators said the kidnapping was peculiar, especially since there was no ransom demand. It was also unclear whether the abductor, who has not been found, has any ties to the Ripken family.

"What makes this more unusual is that we're not sure whether this was a (classic) kidnapping, per se, or what it was - which is part of what the investigation is," said Rich Wolf, an FBI spokesman.

More on Crimesider
July 25, 2012 - Cal Ripken Jr.'s mother was abducted, found unharmed, say Md. police

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