Vi Ripken kidnapping 'very disturbing,' says Aberdeen mayor

Police continue their hunt for the man who they believe abducted Vi Ripken from her Aberdeen home last week and then returned her to the neighborhood unharmed about 24 hours later, and the city's mayor, who was away on vacation last week, is calling the incident "very disturbing."

As of Monday afternoon, the Aberdeen Police Department, the primary agency handling the case, hadn't released any new information about the ongoing investigation since Friday afternoon.

If citizens have any tips about the case, police are urging calls to the 24/7-tip line at 410-836-5432. Photographs of a suspect were widely distributed last week.

Aberdeen Mayor Michael Bennett was on vacation with his family last week when he received news about Ripken.

"It's one of those things that you see happening in other parts of the country and you think that it's never going to happen here," Bennett said Monday. "It's not one of those crimes [that] any police department or agency can be on top of because it's totally random."

Bennett was awakened in the middle of the night and informed about Ripken's disappearance. According to Aberdeen Police, Ripken was taken from her home at gunpoint by a white male in this late 30s or early 40s early on the morning of July 24 and was driven around central Maryland in Ripken's 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.

"It's very disturbing," Bennett said. "My wife and I consider Vi and a lot of the Ripken family as friends."

He added that both he and his wife said their prayers for Ripken, hoping she was safe.

When he was told the next morning that she was found unharmed, Bennett said he was "overjoyed."

"What I'm hearing in just the short time of being back since Saturday afternoon is that folks are overjoyed that this has turned out to [for] the good. Vi is OK, life will go on," Bennett said.

The mayor is also happy with how the city's police department has handled the situation.

"I'm extremely pleased as mayor as a former police officer that [what] has gone on in this [investigation] have been a model of cooperation of police agencies," Bennett commented. "Aberdeen has had great help from the FBI, Baltimore County Police, Harford County Sheriff's Office and Maryland State Police. It's very comforting to know all those agencies are working very closely together and looking for this gentleman and finding out what his motives were."

Bennett said the investigation is "moving along" and the police department is "on top" of it.

Bennett said the Aberdeen community looks at Ripken as a maternal figure, and that's one reason why this case has shaken up the City of Aberdeen.

The mayor said he hasn't spoken to Ripken since the incident, but has talked to her son, Cal Ripken Jr., to let him know thoughts and prayers are with the family.

"I think they're starting to do better," he said of the Ripken family. "They're dealing as most families would with that. They're coping."

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