Police seek 4 in abduction of woman in Va. hotel She, roommate are robbed in their Columbia home


A Columbia woman was robbed and kidnapped at gunpoint from a Virginia hotel Saturday, driven to nearby Washington to buy drugs and then taken to her home, where she and her roommate were tied up and robbed, Howard County police said.

Sharon Vuono, 38, and Sherill Koontz, 45, were not seriously injured, police said. The women could not be reached by phone for comment yesterday and no one answered their door.

Police are searching for four suspects who were last seen in a Buick Riviera, police said.

The incident began when Ms. Vuono, who was attending a conference at the Days Inn hotel in the 6700 block of Commerce St. in Springfield, was robbed by a gunman while riding a hotel elevator about 5 p.m. Saturday.

She was abducted and forced into a car with two other men and a woman. They held Ms. Vuono in the car while they drove to Washington, D.C., where police said they bought heroine and crack with money taken from Ms. Vuono.

The four used the drugs while in the car, obtained Ms. Vuono's address and made her direct them north to her home in the 7200 block of Kindler Road in Columbia's King's Contrivance village.

There, one of the men and the woman took Ms. Vuono inside, where they were met by Ms. Koontz, who was pushed against a wall. The robbers tied up the two women, then stole cash, jewelry and a computer before fleeing.

Ms. Vuono and Ms. Koontz freed themselves and called police about 7:30 p.m.

One of the robbers was described as a 6-foot black male, about 30 with a large build. He wore a dark hooded sweat shirt and gray sweat pants. He was accompanied by a slim black woman, who stood about 5 feet 3 inches and wore a dark, hooded coat. Police said the two victims gave incomplete descriptions of two younger men involved.

Police in Fairfax County, Va., said they have not had any similar reports of robbery-abductions and had not learned about the crime until Howard County police notified them yesterday. Virginia detectives are assisting Howard detectives in the investigation.

While Howard County police spokesman Sgt. Steve Keller said such incidents are uncommon, they have happened sporadically in recent years.

This time last year, a Cooksville liquor store employee jumped from a speeding van on Interstate 70 to escape three men who robbed and kidnapped him as he closed the store one night, police said.

In January, a woman leaving an Ellicott City shopping center was threatened by a man hiding in the back of her car. She was robbed by the man, who forced her to take him to Baltimore.

Anyone with information about Saturday's crime should call Howard County police at 313-2220 or the Metro Crime Stoppers hot line at 276-8888 to qualify for a $2,000 reward.

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