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More details emerge in UVa abduction case

A white work truck with the name of James Robert Allen's employer sitting parked near his home address in Suffolk.
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A white work truck with the name of James Robert Allen's employer sitting parked near his home address in Suffolk.

New details in the Charlottesville abduction case emerged after the prosecutor gave a summary of evidence in court on Tuesday. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

Earlier this week, 41-year-old James Robert Allen of Suffolk pled guilty to the 2023 abduction and malicious wounding of a young woman in Charlottesville. Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania read a summary of evidence in open court at the time of the plea, revealing new insight into the woman's escape and Allen's capture.

On the night of October 4th, two witnesses in the area of Rugby Road and Burnley Avenue heard a woman screaming. They went outside and saw a man, later identified as Allen, jump into a white work truck with "Curtis Contractors" written on it. He sped off, crashing into multiple trees and a car, before fleeing on foot.

Responding officers found a woman with duct tape on her wrists and multiple injuries. A police press conference held last year identified her as a University of Virginia student. She reportedly told an officer that while she was walking home on Burnley Avenue that evening, a man jumped out from behind the truck and started violently choking her. She screamed and fought back while he told her to stop resisting, and that he was going to kill her. The man wrestled her to the ground, punched her in the face, and forced her into the vehicle. She was eventually able to escape. She was treated at UVa Medical Center for a fracture of a bone in her neck, hemorrhaging in and around her eyes, and other injuries.

Police found Allen's iPad, cell phone, ID, and credit card at the scene. The construction company told police that the truck was assigned to him, and he was staying at the Holiday Inn in Ruckersville. Surveillance footage showed Allen entering the hotel at approximately 3 a.m. after the attack. That afternoon, he was located by the Orange County Sheriff's Office and arrested.

Court documents indicate that Allen had worked at Curtis Contracting, Inc. for about two and a half years. In last year's press conference, Chief Michael Kochis said Allen was taken into custody in Louisa County. Authorities have not released details about how Allen got around after abandoning the truck.

The summary includes quotes from a recorded jail call in which Allen's wife told him "that girl didn't deserve that," and he tells her he's sorry.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 27th and faces up to 30 years in prison. He has previous convictions for attacking a woman in 2008 and several burglaries.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.
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