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A 19-year-old man is accused of assaulting and kidnapping his ex-girlfriend near Pittsburgh on Wednesday, sparking an Amber Alert. The girl was later rescued from the home after police received a tip from a Facebook user.
Jermaine Rodgers was arrested after a two-hour standoff at the McKeesport home where he was holding 16-year-old Marjani Aquil against her will after beating and abducting her, police say. Aquil is the niece of WWE wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, who is a Pittsburgh native. Angle drew international attention to the Amber Alert Wednesday night by posting on social media about his niece’s disappearance.
According to police, Rodgers kidnapped Aquil during a previous incident in 2018. He was arrested on several charges after Wednesday’s incident. It is not clear if he has hired an attorney. Local reporters say he unleashed a series of expletives when asked if he wanted to comment while being led into jail.
Here’s what you need to know about Jermaine Rodgers:
1. Rodgers Broke Into His Ex-Girlfriend’s Home With a Gun, Assaulted Her & Took Her to a House
Police say Jermaine Rodgers abducted Marjani Aquil from her Penn Hills home about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, WPXI-TV reports. Police said Rodgers broke through the front door of the house, assaulted the 16-year-old girl and took her from the home against her will to McKeesport in a car. The kidnapping was recorded on a surveillance video camera, police said.
An Amber Alert was issued Wednesday night by the Pennsylvania State Police and criminal charges were filed against Rodgers. According to WPXI, police said Rodgers was armed with a gun during the attack on his ex-girlfriend. Aquil was at the Penn Hills home with her friend, who told police that Rodgers threatened her and pointed the gun at her during the incident.
“Once we got everything together, which didn’t take too long, because we did feel this girl was threatened and in danger, and a young age, 16,” Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton told KDKA-TV.
WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, who is Aquil’s uncle, wrote on Facebook pleading for help finding her. “Hello everyone. My beautiful 16 year old niece Marjani Aquil got abducted today by a 19 year old guy. Please call the police if you have seen this girl,” he said. “Uncle Kurt Loves you Mini. Come back home to us safely. Please lets find my niece.”
2. A Tip From Someone Watching a Facebook Live Stream Led Police to the Home Where the Girl Was Located
Police said they received a tip from someone who saw the 16-year-old victim on a Facebook Live stream video being recorded at the home where she had been taken. According to police, detectives tracked down the girl’s location using the video.
“She said on Facebook Live she actually saw this girl and this guy sitting in a room in a house in McKeesport,” Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton told reporters.
Marjani Aquil was found in the McKeesport home on 28th Street just after midnight Thursday and police say Jermaine Rodgers was taken into custody about two hours later after a SWAT standoff. Rodgers was hiding in a coal cellar at the home, according to police. The Amber Alert was canceled about 2 a.m. Thursday after Aquil was found and Rodgers was arrested.
“Members of the SWAT team had to physically find him in the coal cellar,” Inspector Christopher Kearns of the Allegheny County Police told reporters. “It was under the front porch. They broke the window so they could see into the area and that’s where they saw him hiding.”
Another missing juvenile was found inside the home, according to police. The girl, who is from Munhall, was not harmed. Police have released few details about her or her case, but have said they will possibly charge other people who were in the home in connection to the teen’s disappearance. Police said there were two other people inside the McKeesport home.
One of those people, 18-year-old Christian Peterson, will be charged with hindering apprehension and obstruction, WTAE-TV reports.
3. Rodgers Assaulted & Held Aquil Against Her Will for 4 Days in 2018 & Was Sentenced to Probation in December in That Case
This wasn’t the first time that Jermaine Rodgers abducted his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend, according to police. “He has been arrested before, for the same thing, and he just did the same thing again,” Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton told KDKA-TV.
Rodgers was previously accused of kidnapping Marjani Aquil in January 2018 and holding her against her will for four days at a home in Wilkinsburg, according to police and court records. During that incident, Rodgers took his girlfriend from a bus and into an SUV against her will, police said. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aquil told detectives that Rodgers punched her in the face and took her cell phone so she couldn’t call for help.
After Aquil was able to escape, an arrest warrant was issued for Rodgers. In March 2018, he was found hiding in another apartment in Wilkinsburg with a man wanted on murder charges, WPXI-TV reported at the time. Rodgers ran from police when they raided the home and was taken into custody shortly after, according to the report.
Aquil had swollen and black eyes, a bite mark on her leg and bruises on her arm and face, police said, according to the Post-Gazette. Rodgers was charged with unlawful restraint of a minor, stalking (repeatedly committing acts to cause fear), harassment, kidnapping of a minor, terroristic threats and witness intimidation, according to court records.
On December 6, 2018, Rodgers pleaded guilty to terroristic threats and simple assault. He was sentenced to one year of probation. Rodgers was also ordered to complete a batterer’s intervention program and undergo a mental health evaluation, court records show. He was orderd to have no contact with the victim, but police said as of January 17, 2019, there was no protective order in place barring Rodgers from contacting Aquil.
4. Aquil Suffered a Broken Eye Socket & Will Need to Have Surgery, Her Father Says
Marjani Aquil, a Penn Hills High School student, is recovering at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, her father told KDKA-TV. She was left bruised and battered after the ordeal. Her father said she suffered a broken right eye socket and will need to undergo surgery. Doctors will be inserting a steel plate.
Aquil’s father, Rasul Aquil, told KDKA that his daughter is in stable condition, but has been sedated and highly medicated. Her uncle, WWE wrestler Kurt Angle, posted on Facebook that the family appreciates the support they received while Aquil was missing.
“My niece has been found,” he wrote on Thursday. “Just wanted to say thank you to all those who have prayed and have shared posts to help locate her. Thank you to the Pittsburgh Police for your persistence in finding my niece. My family is truly appreciative. Love you all.”
5. Rodgers Was Charged With Kidnapping, Burglary, Unlawful Restraint of a Juvenile & Several Other Offenses in the Amber Alert Case & Was Held Without Bail
Jermaine LaQuay Rodgers was charged with kidnapping a minor, burglary, unlawful restraint of a minor, terroristic threats, simple assault, harassment and criminal mischief.
Rodgers is being held at the Alleghany County Jail without bail and is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on January 28.