Kidnap charge for pregnant fugitive caught in Pennsylvania

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A pregnant woman who eluded capture for months in a gun theft case assaulted a jail guard at a hospital, jumped out a third-story window and kidnapped a woman and her baby at knifepoint during her getaway, authorities said Wednesday.

Billie Jo Ribble, of Bath, N.Y., was arraigned Tuesday in federal court in Rochester on two counts of kidnapping, said Steuben County Undersheriff Jeffrey Allard and FBI officials. She also was arraigned on local charges relating to a burglary near her hometown last fall and her hospital escape last week in Pennsylvania, Allard told The Associated Press.

Her court-assigned public defender, William Kelley, didn't return a call seeking comment.

Ribble's latest episode in what authorities say is a long criminal history began Friday afternoon, when she was arrested in Mansfield, Pa., on charges stemming from an October theft of 15 rifles and shotguns from a home in Howard, N.Y.

Steuben County sheriff's investigators had been tipped off she was meeting someone at the Walmart in Mansfield to receive "travel money," Allard said. When she arrived, she was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police, he said.

After being arraigned in a Tioga County, Pa., court on fugitive-from-justice charges, Ribble was being taken to jail Friday night when she complained of stomach pains related to her pregnancy, the undersheriff said. Ribble, who told Allard she was seven months' pregnant, was taken to a hospital in nearby Wellsboro, Pa.

At the hospital, officials said, she grabbed a chair or stool and hit a county correction officer. Ribble then jumped out a third-story window onto a second-story roof, where she used a ladder to reach the ground, authorities said.

Around 1 a.m. Saturday, she broke into a nearby home and forced a woman with a 6-month-old baby to drive her back to New York, police said. En route, Ribble used the woman's cellphone to call someone in Corning, N.Y. She had the woman drop her off along a New York road, where someone picked her up, Allard said.

Ribble disabled the woman's phone, he said, but the woman contacted police once she was back in Pennsylvania.

New York State Police were able to track Ribble's call to a home in Corning where she had lived previously. When police arrived at the home early Saturday morning, Ribble fled to the attic, where she threatened to harm herself and her unborn child, Allard said. After about an hour of talking with police, Ribble surrendered, he said.

Corning police said Ribble's arrest record in the city dates back to 2006, mostly for crimes involving drugs, weapons or assault. Her New York prison record shows time spent at Albion Correctional Facility for a robbery conviction in 2003 and another stint for a parole violation. She was released from prison in January 2012.

Allard said she tried to elude arrest for the parole violation by jumping out a home's second-story window.

"She has a pretty good history of flight," Allard said, adding that a network of family and friends helped her elude police over the past several months.

Allard said Ribble reported being pregnant with her first child. He didn't know if she was married.

Ribble was being held without bail at the Steuben County Jail. She was charged with burglary in connection with the weapons theft in Howard and charged in Corning City Court as a fugitive from justice from Pennsylvania.

The Leader of Corning reports that Ribble was a standout basketball player in the 1990s at nearby Campbell-Savona and Alfred State College in neighboring Allegany County.