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Vi Ripken's kidnapper still at large a month later

Nearly a month has passed since Vi Ripken was kidnapped outside her Aberdeen home, and the July 24 incident has prompted the entire Ripken family to take extra security precautions.

And while Vi Ripken and her children are being more alert about who is around them, police still have not apprehended her suspected kidnapper.

"There's really nothing new to report," Aberdeen Police Department spokesman Lt. Fred Budnick said Tuesday morning, when asked if there has been any progress in finding Ripken's kidnapper.

Tips are still being received and police are tracking down all of them, after determining which are of high priority, Budnick said.

"We have a lot of leads to investigate, to prioritize, to check out," he said.

Vi Ripken, mother of Major Leaguers Cal Jr. and Billy Ripken, as well as Elly and Fred Ripken, was taken from her home at gunpoint by a white man in this late 30s or early 40s early on the morning of July 24 and driven around central Maryland in her car. She was then left, with her hands bound, inside the car, which was found parked near her home early in the morning of July 25.

Despite police patrolling the neighborhood and having an officer stationed at the back of her house, the kidnapper was able to park Ripken's car and then run off without being detected by police.

The case, Budnick said, is being treated like all other serious crime and is receiving the department's full time and attention.

"It's still an active investigation because it's an armed kidnapping," Budnick said.

The case is getting more attention from the public because the victim is Aberdeen's most famous resident, Budnick said.

"It's not getting special attention, but it's obviously higher profile," he said. "But it's being investigated as if it were you or I."

In the first two weeks after the kidnapping, police released several images of the kidnapper, including a picture and video taken of the man from outside the Walmart in Glen Burnie, as well as a police sketch, hoping to generate more leads.

Cal Ripken Jr. has said his mother's kidnapping "was the worst feeling you could imagine," and that when he first got the news from his older sister, Elly, he drove to Aberdeen to see if he could find her.

"We couldn't find Mom … I actually physically got in the car and drove around out there," the baseball Hall of Fame infielder said at a press conference about 10 days after the kidnapping. "It's like finding a needle in a haystack, but it made me feel like I was doing something. I think we were hardening ourselves to the worst possibility. I know I was."

Cal Ripken has been clearly rattled by the event. Last week, during what would normally be relaxing evening at the annual event in Aberdeen that bears his name, he had security on his mind.

On the final night of pool play at the Cal Ripken World Series on Aug. 15, the Hall of Fame shortstop stepped out of a suite at the Marriott Hotel next to Cal Sr.'s Yard, where he was attending a party with family and friends, for a brief interview with The Aegis, on the World Series. Once in the hallway, Ripken opened a security door separating two wings of the hotel's second floor and checked the adjoining hallway for signs of anything unusual. The only living presence to be seen was two players from the World Series Australian national team, who looked to be headed to the hotel pool.

"I think we're OK out here in the hall," Ripken said after pulling the security doors closed and settling down to take a seat on the hallway floor, with his back against the wall. "Let's just have a seat and do this out here."

Aberdeen police are also patrolling Vi Ripken's Aberdeen neighborhood more regularly.

"We're doing frequent checks in the area," Budnick said.

While there's no reason to believe the kidnapper would come back to the area, he continued, "just the fact that the guy is still at large, and he did take her from her residence, we beefed up patrols in the area a little bit."

Anyone who may have information about Vi Ripken's kidnapper is asked to call the 24-hour tip line, 410-836-5432.

Police are hoping to get a break in the case.

"Believe me, I'd love to call you and say we've got somebody," Budnick said.

Aegis sports reporter Dewey Fox contributed to this article.

Dewey Fox contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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