Kidnapping arrests follow ransom drop
RI businessman cooperated with police to foil plot
Cesar Lopez, 20 (left), and Ralph Alexander, 24, were arraigned yesterday in Providence District Court on kidnapping and other charges. (Providence Journal Photo / Andrew Dickerman)
PROVIDENCE -- The idea sounds like a plot from a 1970s television police drama: Kidnappers grab the wife of a local businessman at gunpoint, stow her in a basement apartment and demand that her husband drop a $150,000 ransom by the side of a highway.
Police say that's exactly what happened Wednesday when two Providence men allegedly abducted Erene Rapoza, wife of real estate developer and radio station owner Craig Rapoza. The men allegedly bound and gagged her and kept her in a bathroom while they tried to collect a ransom.
Erene Rapoza was kidnapped at gunpoint at 1:46 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release issued by the radio stations, WKKB-FM, WAKX-FM, and WALE-AM.
Police gave the following account of the caper:
After the abduction, they said, the kidnappers called Craig Rapoza and told him that if he did not pay $150,000, they would kill his wife.
Rapoza called his attorney, who reported the abduction to the State Police.
Police developed a list of suspects and set up surveillance in several spots in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
During the next few hours, the kidnappers called Rapoza several times.
Following their instructions, he threw $150,000 out the window of his car as he entered Interstate 95 south from Exit 5 in Massachusetts early Thursday morning. He was accompanied by undercover detectives.
''When we made the drop, that's when we moved in," said State Police Major Steven O'Donnell.
They stopped 20-year-old Cesar Lopez as he drove through the area. A few moments later, they arrested Ralph Alexander, 24, as he walked through a nearby shopping center.
Police then went to Lopez's home, where they found Erene Rapoza bound and gagged in the bathroom.
''Emotionally . . . as you can imagine, she was devastated from the ordeal," O'Donnell said.
Lopez and Alexander were charged with kidnapping with intent to extort, first-degree robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy.