Plant City alleged kidnapper arrested behind the wheel of stolen car, police say

Hillsborough County

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – “I was crying and said please stop doing this. He tried to get the wire around me,” recalled the alleged kidnapping victim.

Eight On Your Side reporters spoke exclusively with the victim of an alleged kidnapping from Mother’s Day. Now, after weeks on the run, police said her accused attacker is finally behind bars.

Investigators said 32-year-old Cody Lee Jackson has been hiding out since May 9, but his days as a wanted fugitive ended Tuesday night. Police said he had just committed another crime when they found him.

Investigators said on May 9, a Seffner woman was abducted by Jackson, who she says she knew him for about a year. Jackson is accused of clubbing the woman with a piece of wood, forcing her into her own car, and tying her up with extension cords.

Deputies said the woman managed to break free and ask for help when Jackson stopped at an Inverness gas station, according to deputies.

 A clerk at the station told 8 On Your Side she saw the woman banging on the convenience store window and asking for help.

“She had blood, matted in her hair, she had leaves all in her hair,” Rachel Craddock recalled. “She had extension cords on her arms, but one was hanging because that’s how she got undone. It was hanging from her arm.”

Picture of Cory Jackson and his mother Leslie Jackson sent to WFLA by Leslie.

8 On Your Side also spoke with the victim, who said she had known Jackson for about a year and allowed him to stay at her Seffner home. She told Chip Osowski the Mother’s Day attack started for no apparent reason.

“He had said that I was going to die today,” she said. “That one or both of us were going to die today.”

Meanwhile, Jackson escaped and has been on the run since May 9, until May 18 when Plant City police got a call about a car stolen outside this gas station.

Police found the car at another gas station 5-minutes away with Jackson was behind the wheel.

“Had we not gotten him [Tuesday] who knows what would have happened so I’m very thankful,” said Lieutenant Alfred Van Duyne with Plant City police.

Jackson’s first mugshot was taken at 15-years-old. He’s since been arrested more than a dozen times with two stints in Florida State Prison.

“I know he screwed up and done the wrong things, but he needs help. He’s a good guy and like I said he’s very intelligent,” Leslie Jackson told 8 On Your Side about her son Cory.

On Wednesday, Jackson’s mom defended her son claiming he is very intelligent, is a member of the National Honor’s Society, and is a extremely skilled carpenter.

Leslie said Cory got into the wrong crowd and has struggled with PTSD and drugs since getting out of prison more than a year ago. She said her son has been homeless for over a year and is pleading for someone to help him with his mental health issues.

“I’ve tried to help him, and I’ve tried to do everything I can. But, there’s only so much I can do. I’m his mom and I love him,” Jackson said.

8 On Your Side also spoke with a woman who’s been friends with Jackson for 18-years and describes him as a caring, genuine man who has dealt with a lot of challenges in life. She said this level of violence is completely out of character.

That woman also told us she’s not defending Jackson’s crime and is relieved to know that he, the kidnapping victim, and the public are safe.

That woman said she also spoke with the victim recently and said she’s relieved to know her capture is alive and behind bars.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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