Police arrest Lafayette woman accused of stealing car, kidnapping 2-year-old

Jessilyn Gardiner

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Lafayette woman is accused of stealing a mother’s car, hitting her with it, and kidnapping her 2-year-old.

Police responded to a report of auto theft and child abduction in the 900 block of North 10th Street on July 11.

The victim told police Jessilyn Gardiner, 33, had been living with her for the past few days. The two got into an argument around 9:30 p.m. after Gardiner allegedly demanded a ride from the victim.

The victim agreed and put her 2-year-old daughter in the backseat. But then she changed her mind, and she stepped out of the car.

As she was walking around the car to get her daughter, Gardiner moved to the driver’s seat and placed it in reverse—hitting the mother and knocking her to the ground. Gardiner drove away with the child in the back seat.

As Lafayette officers were speaking with the victim, the Tippecanoe County Sherriff’s Department received a call of a suicidal female from the 2800 block of S River Rd, West Lafayette. Gardiner’s father lives at that location, and he reported his daughter as suicidal. He also told police that there was a child in the back seat of the car.

Officers arrived and located the toddler unharmed in the back seat. Gardiner fled from the scene prior to officers arriving, and she was apprehended by a K9 from the Tippecanoe County Sherriff’s department.

Gardiner was transported to the Tippecanoe County Jail and she was arrested on charges of kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery with a deadly weapon, and auto theft.