A Benton man who was out on bond after allegedly using a Taser to kidnap his ex-wife back in October is accused of kidnapping her again on New Year's Eve.
Benton police arrested 52-year-old Gerald Schmidt Jr., who, as of press time, remained incarcerated at the Saline County jail.
Lt. Kevin Russell, public information officer for the Benton Police Department, said officers were called to the 1100 block of English Oak Drive for a disturbance, when they learned that Yin Yan Schmidt, 34, had been taken from the home at gunpoint by her former husband.
As Benton officers searched the area for Gerald Schmidt, Bryant police received a call of a woman asking for help near Bishop Park. However, when Bryant officers arrived at the area, no one was found. Later, authorities determined that the woman calling for help was Yin Yan Schmidt.
Russell said that early Sunday, Benton officers found both Gerald and Yin Yan Schmidt at the Econo Lodge off Interstate 30 in Benton, and Gerald Schmidt was taken into custody without incident. Gerald Schmidt was charged with aggravated residential burglary, kidnapping and stalking. Bryant police also charged Schmidt with rape.
Gerald Schmidt was already out on a $50,000 sheriff's bond for allegedly kidnapping Yin Yan Schmidt on Oct. 30, 2011, and is scheduled to appear before Benton District Judge Mike Robinson on Jan. 24 in conjunction with that charge.
Yin Yan Schmidt, 34, told police that after her ex-husband drove her to a store in Benton on Oct. 31, he Tased her multiple times, put her in the back-seat floorboard of his SUV and handcuffed her to the base of the vehicle seats. He then drove the vehicle to Galveston, Texas, where they stayed for the night, and then began driving back to Arkansas.
Gerald Schmidt allegedly made remarks about his wife's death along the way, according to information Yin-Yin Schmidt gave to officers.
At some point during the drive, Yin Yan Schmidt was able to use a cell phone to make a call to her father, during which she, in an Asian dialect, told him to call Benton police. According to Yin Yan’s relatives, the Schmidts have had a tumultuous relationship, and they were concerned that foul play might be involved.
After being alerted to the situation, Benton police then informed law enforcement agencies throughout Texas to be on the lookout for Gerald Schmidt.
Jasper Police Chief Rodney Pearson told The Saline Courier that his detectives learned that Gerald Schmidt had been called by a former employer and asked about the alleged kidnapping. Gerald Schmidt reportedly denied the kidnapping to his former employer, which officers speculate to be the reason he decided to stop his vehicle next to a Jasper officer on U.S. 96 and begin talking about the kidnapping incident..
"I was working a traffic step program when (Gerald Schmidt) pulled up beside me at a red light and said he wanted to talk to an officer about a kidnapping in Benton, Ark.," Jasper Sgt. David Lavender said. "I told him to pull into a convenience store, and later he told me that Benton police had a case of him allegedly kidnapping his wife, but that he had not done that. I then asked to speak to the wife, and she was sitting in the back seat of the (SUV), which I found a little strange from the beginning."
He added, "She got out and walked toward me with a cell phone next to her ear and then handed the phone to me. On the other end was (Benton) Detective Brett Carpenter."
Lavender was told that Yin Yan Schmidt had just called police and reported being Tased and handcuffed. He said a female officer then checked out Yin Yan Schmidt and found multiple spots on her body "showing signs of being Tased."
"She also had minor injuries on her wrists, and she looked pretty distraught, yet afraid to show it in front of (Gerald Schmidt)," Lavender said. "When I talked to her away from him, she told me she was scared."
Lavender said that Gerald Schmidt also denied owning any handcuffs. However, officers found an empty box for Smith and Wesson handcuffs that Lavender said looked "brand new." Gerald Schmidt allegedly told Lavender that the handcuffs box had been in the vehicle for numerous years, but still maintained that he did not own any handcuffs.
"He was passive the whole time," Lavender said of Gerald Schmidt's demeanor. "Then I patted him down before detaining him, and I felt something in his pocket that officers recognize. I pulled out two brand new handcuff keys, and they were still attached together like when you first purchase them."
Officers also found a passport, a small personal Taser and a large knife.
Lavender said he was glad the way the situation turned out because he felt "confident" that if Gerald Schmidt hadn't stopped to talk, "the results could have ended in something entirely different, especially with the long kitchen knife we found."
Pearson told the Courier that not only was Lavender "at the right place at the right time," but praised his officer for being "sharp." He said that the "fate of (Yin Yan) Schmidt could have been in jeopardy if not for the attentiveness of Jasper police officers."
"I think (Gerald) Schmidt stopped (Lavender) to try to defend himself, but (Lavender) knew pretty quick that something wasn't right," he said. "I don't know (Gerald Schmidt's) intentions, but he had things in his vehicle that didn't set right with officers. He had stuff that people just don't normally carry with them."
The Courier also learned that Gerald Schmidt was arrested by Benton police on Aug. 25 for third-degree domestic battery. According to a report, Yin Yan Schmidt came home on that day, walked into a bedroom where her newborn child and visiting mother were, when Gerald Schmidt came in and took several photographs before walking back out. Yin Yan Schmidt told officers that when she confronted her former husband, he struck her in the chest, pushed her away, and slapped her.
According to the report, Yin Yan Schmidt had three visible red marks on her chest and the right side of her face near her eye was reddened. Yin Yan Schmidt also reportedly played officers a recording of the incident on a digital recorder.
Officer Chris Runnells reported that "I listened to the audio recording and it confirmed (Yin Yan) Schmidt's statement. It also indicated that (Yin Yan) Schmidt struck (Gerald) Schmidt after he pushed her because on the audio you could hear (Gerald) Schmidt say three different times 'don't hit me.'"
Gerald Schmidt reportedly told officers that his divorce attorney told him to take pictures of the living conditions in his wife's bedroom "while she is at home to be used as evidence in the divorce proceeding." He also said that Yin Yan Schmidt slapped him in the chest after he took the pictures, that he pushed her away, and then just picked up his son and walked into the garage. However, the report noted that no injuries were noticed on Gerald Schmidt.
Yin Yan Schmidt also was cited for third-degree domestic assault during that incident.
As for the New Year's Eve incident, Russell said that both the Bryant and Benton Police Departments are working together and that investigation is ongoing. Additional charges are possible as facts in the case are revealed, Russell noted.
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call the Benton Police Department at 778-1171 or 315-TIPS.