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Woman Claims She Recalls Nothing Of Kidnapping At Father’s Trial

Martin Jonassen, 55, allegedly kidnapped his daughter from her Missouri home then kept her tied up in a northwest Indiana motel room. (Credit: Portage Police)

Martin Jonassen, 55, allegedly kidnapped his daughter from her Missouri home then kept her tied up in a northwest Indiana motel room. (Credit: Portage Police)

Mike Krauser Mike Krauser
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HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — The trial is underway for a Missouri man, accused of kidnapping his daughter and driving her to Northwest Indiana, where she was seen last September running naked from a motel.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, back in September of last year, Martin Jonassen, 55 at the time, was charged with kidnapping his 21-year-old daughter from Missouri and spending a weekend on the road until she escaped from a motel in Portage, Ind.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

The young woman was discovered her running naked down U.S. 20 near Indiana Highway 249. She ran into a liquor store and begged the clerk for help, saying she had been assaulted in a nearby motel.

Just then, Jonassen allegedly came in and said he was her father, and that she was on drugs. He dragged the woman to his car, but police blocked his exit.

In the car, police found the 21-year-old woman naked and bruised, with rope on her ankles.

But as Jonassen’s trial began Monday, the woman claimed over and over that she didn’t remember anything – not even her own name, her age, or where she was born.

Did she remember taking a trip with her father earlier that summer to Michigan, where he slept naked in the same bed with her and sexually abused her?

“I don’t remember.”

Did she remember hiding from Jonassen in a barn at her family’s home in Missouri on Sept. 11 of last year because he was mad she was dating another man?

“I don’t remember.”

Did she remember fighting with Jonassen in her trailer a little bit later until she passed out, only to awaken to discover him loading her clothes into his car and then forcing her into the car?

“I don’t remember.”

Did she recall trying to escape the car several times, only to have Jonassen pull her back in and tie her arms and legs up?

“I don’t remember.”

After she left the stand, Hammond U.S. District Judge James Moody asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster if Jonassen’s daughter was afraid of her father.

“Definitely,” Koster said. “Everybody in her family is.”

Other witnesses, however, did remember seeing the victim run across the Dollar Inn Parking lot, U.S. 20 and then into the liquor store.

Deborah Brown, a housekeeper for Dollar Inn, said she was standing in the front lobby of the motel around 10:30 a.m. when she saw the chase.

“As I’m standing there, I see a woman running naked and a man chasing her,” Brown testified.

She watched as the woman ran across U.S. 20 and then back across, seeking safety in the liquor store. At the same time, she saw Jonassen run back to his car and drive to the liquor store parking lot, relaying the information so another employee could tell police.

“She darted across U.S. 20,” Brown said. “She didn’t even look (for traffic).”

When Brown went to shut the door to Jonassen’s room, she said, she discovered a table blocking the door, ropes tossed across a chair and the sheets pulled off the mattress.

Liquor Center employee Sanda Farley said she was in the store when the woman ran in, calling out for help.

“She was yelling, ‘help me, help me, please help me,’” Farley testified.

She continued narrating the security video, saying that when Jonassen ran in, he claimed the woman was on drugs. After he finally pulled the woman into his car, he pushed her down with his arm, Farley said.

Jonassen, who is representing himself in the trial, asked most of the witnesses if they had seen him and the woman cross state lines. He argued during his opening statement that no evidence would show the victim was forced across state lines.

He did say that he got into a fight with the woman that morning and that the two did fight.

The jury trial continues Tuesday.

The Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.