NJ woman says she was followed home … by man who turns out to be Pa. kidnapper
DELAWARE TOWNSHIP — What should have been a quiet drive home for a Hunterdon County woman turned into a scene from a frightening movie after she realized she was being followed by a red pickup truck that tailed her right to her home.
Township police say they responded to a call for help about 9:50 p.m., finding 53-year-old Thomas P. Kostingo in his red 1998 Dodge that was parked in the driveway of the rural neighborhood.
Police busted Kostingo on a warrant out of Pennsylvania and drug paraphernalia they found in his truck — nothing else.
Authorities say Kostingo was a perfect stranger to this township woman.
But even more chilling was a frightening fact from his past.
In 1993, Pennsylvania police charged Kostingo with the brutal abduction and attempted rape of a 26-year-old woman who he threatened to kill with a rifle.
The Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, which on Friday announced Kostingo’s arrest, did not release details of Kostingo’s past attempted rape charges and abduction conviction, which New Jersey 101.5 pieced together from Pennsylvania court records and published reports from the time.
Kostingo, who would have been 30 years old at the time of his Oct. 10, 1993, arrest, was accused of luring the woman to a bridge in Maizeville, Pennsylvania, with the promise of providing information about her missing boyfriend.
When she got there that Sunday morning, police said he led her by the arm under the bridge. She tried to flee when she saw a rifle, but he grabbed her and dragged her along the ground, got on top of her and duct-taped her mouth shut.
He then tried to handcuff her, according to a police account published days later in The Morning Call newspaper.
Fortunately for the victim, she had been suspicious about Kostingo from the start and had asked her friend to follow behind in her car.
Her friend heard her screams and began to shout for her from the bridge. Kostingo then led his victim to the roadway, pointing a loaded rifle at her head, police said. The victim managed to get into the car and her friend took off.
Kostingo was arrested that afternoon after two residents found him in the woods and disarmed him, officials said.
Following a jury trial a year later, he was convicted of kidnapping, terroristic threats and simple assault charges, but not on the reckless endangerment or attempted rape charges.
It was not immediately clear from Pennsylvania records Friday how much time he served behind bars. Court records next show charges for theft and public drunkenness in 2004.
His criminal record dates back to at least 1989, with arrests and convictions for offenses including theft, trespassing, loitering and prowling at night, drug use, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, public drunkenness, criminal mischief and harassment.
He still lives in the same Pennsylvania town he lived when he was arrested for the abduction: Gilberton, which is 100 miles, or a two-hour drive at the least from this Hunterdon township.
“It remains unclear why this individual, who by all accounts is a stranger, followed the woman into Delaware Township,” Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives John J. Kuczynski said Friday.
It also was not clear Friday afternoon whether he could face additional charges for driving into New Jersey as a result of his previous legal troubles.
Prosecutors declined to release further details into this case, but asked that anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-321-0010 or by going to www.crimestoppershunterdon.com, or text messaging “HCTIPS” plus your tip message to 274637.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email email@example.com.