Wisconsin kidnapper, found dead, told victim she 'broke his heart'

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The man who abducted a woman outside a Walmart in southeastern Wisconsin told her she had broken his heart, and the only way for them to be together was for him to kidnap her, according to court records filed Tuesday.

Mitchell Owens, 24, of Burlington, Wis., drove the woman to Eau Claire after kidnapping her early Monday morning. She escaped while they were parked at a convenience store, and Owens was found dead Tuesday afternoon of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound after a 24-hour manhunt.

The 21-year-old victim told police Owens walked up to her about 3 a.m. Monday outside the Walmart store, pointed a gun at her and ordered her to get into his car, according to a criminal complaint filed against Owens in Eau Claire County Tuesday, the the Associated Press reports.

The woman said she recognized Owens as a former co-worker, and said he threatened to shoot her if she didn't get in the car.

The complaint charged him with attempting to flee from a traffic officer, according to the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

When Owens stopped his car at a convenience store in Eau Claire, the woman escaped. Owens then led police on a high-speed chase east of Eau Claire that reached speeds of 100 mph.

Police used stop sticks to disable Owens’ vehicle, which crashed on Olson Drive in the town of Seymour. Owens fled on foot into a wooded area with a long gun, the Leader-Telegram reports.

Two-day manhunt

Law enforcement set up a massive search operation to try to find Owens, bringing more than 200 officers from 30 agencies in northwestern Wisconsin to help in the effort that began Monday morning and continued through the night until they found his body Tuesday afternoon. They evacuated residents of 16 nearby homes.

“We pulled out all the resources … for the safety of the community,” said Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer, according to the Leader-Telegram. “Had (Owens) gotten out of the area, we don’t know what he would have done.”

Police found Owens’ body in the woods north of Olson Drive. Authorities say he shot himself, and a gun was found with him.

The woman told Eau Claire police that Owens told her the “cops might shoot him," according to the newspaper. But no law enforcement officers involved in the case fired a weapon, Cramer said.

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