PITT COUNTY - Investigators have released details on how a Pitt County woman was able to survive an apparent kidnapping by her ex-boyfriend.
According to the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, Paul Edward Ireland kidnapped Brandi Baggett from her Pactolus home Monday morning and held her at gunpoint. But she was able to convince the suspect to let her live and send her to authorities.
The search for Baggett began after a neighbor heard a commotion at the victim's home at about 7:30 a.m., said Sheriff Neil Elks. When Baggett didn't show up for work at the EyeCareCenter on Stantonsburg Road in Greenville, a co-worker called 911.
Once deputies arrived at Bagget's home at about 9 a.m., they found her door kicked in, Sheriff Elks told NewsChannel 12. Investigators saw that Baggett's car was at the home, and witnesses reported seeing a truck leaving the residence.
Deputies soon learned that the truck belonged to Ireland's grandfather, and that the suspect has family in Northampton County, investigators said. Several detectives then headed to the county.
Ireland contacted a friend in Pitt County to find out what media outlets were reporting on him, investigators said. That friend later called Ireland back and encouraged him to call Sheriff Elks.
Ireland and Baggett eventually made their way to the home of Ireland's grandmother in Northampton County, said deputies. Ireland then allowed Baggett to call Sheriff Elks because she had convinced him that she wanted to be with him, and that she sought to clear things up with authorities, investigators explained. Baggett told Ireland she would talk authorities into not filing charges.
Ireland allowed a family member to drive Baggett to the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, so that she could deliver a letter written by him that would clear his name, investigators told NewsChannel 12. Baggett arrived at the Sheriff's Office unharmed after 4 p.m. Monday.
"I would say this is extremely rare. She's a very blessed lady, not knowing exactly what the intent was [Monday] when she was removed from her home against her will," said Sheriff Elks.
Baggett told deputies about what happened, and authorities began an active search for Ireland. But the search came to an end when Ireland's body was discovered in Northampton County at about 6 p.m. Monday, deputies said. The suspect died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, said investigators.
"They don't always hit us in the gut, [but] this one did," said Det. John Guard about the case.
Ireland and Baggett had a violent relationship, deputies said. On Oct. 5, a warrant was issued against Ireland for assault on a female. He was served on Oct. 7 with a protection order that bars him from being near Baggett.
But Ireland violated the protection order, investigators said. The suspect was allegedly showing up at Baggett's home and following her on a highway. On Oct. 10, new warrants were issued against Ireland for felony stalking.
Before Ireland was found dead, he was believed to have been armed with two guns, investigators said.
According to the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, there were 122 homicides from domestic violence in North Carolina last year.