A Montana woman, 47 year old Rita Maze, who was kidnapped by
â€œa large man in a black hoodieâ€ who
had hit her on the head and put her into a trunk of a car at a rest
stop near Wolf Creek on Tuesday morning was able to phone her
husband and even talk to police from the trunk of the car in which
she was trapped in, but was dead by the time investigators found
her more than 250 miles away in Spokane,Washington state,
authorities said Wednesday.
Maze was driving home to Great Falls after having visited relatives in Helena, Mont., when she was accosted at a rest stop on Interstate 10 on Tuesday morning, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo C. Dutton said at a news conference.
Maze called her husband Tuesday night from the trunk of the car, telling him sheâ€™d been struck on the head, Dutton said. â€œSheâ€™s saying sheâ€™s kidnapped,â€ Dutton said.
Maze stayed on the phone, talking to her husband and to a Helena police officer as the signal faded in and out on the way to Spokane, Dutton said. The Spokane County Sheriffâ€™s Office said it was able to track her movements through signals from local cell towers.
Her husband Bob Maze and daughter Rochelle Maze called Helena police about 8:20 p.m. Tuesday, saying that Maze was missing and that they suspected foul play. BobÂ had spoken to his wife at 11:25 a.m., and the family believes she was abducted a short time later.
She wasnâ€™t even sure if she was in her car or not. Husband, Bob Maze,Â and daughter, Rochelle Maze,Â had police on the other line as they spoke toÂ Maze in what would be her final hours. They relayed what she told them to police, but the information came too late.
Her body was found inside the car shortly after midnight Wednesday in a parking lot outside Spokane, Wash., International Airport, Montana and Washington authorities said.
â€œMy mom touched every person she made contact with,â€ said Rochelle. â€œShe considered herself a lifetime member of PTA with Bill Salonen.â€
No cause of death was released, but Dutton said that Mazeâ€™s death was believed to have been a homicide and that she was believed to have been killed after the car arrived in Spokane. Dutton said authorities were seeking a â€œperson of interest,â€ but he provided no further details.
Itâ€™s too early to tell,â€ he said, but â€œwe would suspect nowâ€ that it was an random attack.
Maze was a cook at Morningside Elementary School in Great Falls, NBC station KHQ of Spokane reported. Bill Salonen, the schoolâ€™s former principal, said she â€œhad such a positive presenceâ€ on pupils.
â€œShe, one, had such a positive presence,â€ said Bill Salonen, former principal at Morningside.