Man who took 2-year-old girl from Bellingham store pleads guilty to kidnapping

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 8, 2014 

Jake Unick

Jake Unick.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

The man who took a 2-year-old girl from a Bellingham grocery store a few days after trying to grab two girls and a woman off the street was convicted Thursday, May 8, in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Jake Unick, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping, two counts of second-degree kidnapping with a sexual motivation and harassment, making threats to kill.

The first kidnapping attempt occurred Feb. 22, 2013 in Ferndale, where a 16-year-old girl reported that a man grabbed her arm, shoved something sharp into her ribcage and told her to keep walking. His grip on her arm would tighten whenever people were nearby, and he threatened multiple times that he could kill her if he wanted to, according to court documents. He threatened to spray her with a substance, and she saw a keychain attached to a pink case that looked like a pepper spray container. When she saw a friend, she pushed her attacker away and ran toward her friend. She went to a bar on Main Street, where police were called.

On the morning of March 1, 2013, Unick grabbed a 13-year-old girl as she was walking to her school bus stop on West Bakerview Road, according to court documents. He told her, "Do as I say, or else."

She screamed "No!" He then punched her in the face and sprayed her with pepper spray. She was able to run, and though he followed her for a while, she got away.

Less than 12 hours later, a 24-year-old woman reported being attacked in a similar way in the same area. She ran screaming to her apartment on West Bakerview after he sprayed her with pepper spray twice and told her "You're gonna come with me; you're gonna do as I say." She got help from a neighbor who called 911. Both victims gave similar descriptions of their attacker to police.

On March 4, 2013, a 2-year-old girl went missing at the Bakerview Fred Meyer. After an alert went out and employees began searching for the girl, Unick brought her back inside. At first he said he found the girl outside, but security footage showed him hurriedly taking the girl by the hand from the middle of the store, where she had been near her parents.

He then said the girl told him her parents were outside, but her parents told police that she had recently been adopted from another country and didn't know English well enough to express that idea. Unick had been outside with the girl for about 10 minutes. A medical exam revealed no injury to the girl.

As information about the assaults went public, Unick's girlfriend confronted him, and he admitted to committing the attacks with a pink pepper spray container that he had taken from her.

When she asked him what he intended to do with the victims, "he would only say that he didn't know," according to court documents. She then took him to his parents' home and made him tell them what he had done.

In 2007, Ferndale police investigated Unick for molesting at least one young girl over a period of several years, according to court documents.

Attorneys have recommended a 10-year sentence for Unick. He will be sentenced at a later court date after a presentencing investigation is completed.

Reach Zoe Fraley at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or 360-756-2803. Read the Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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