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New Jersey kidnapping suspect faces new charges after woman held captive for 1 year made daring escape: AG

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday announced new charges against a kidnapping suspect – and an alleged serial conman – accused of holding a woman hostage for about a year, dragging her along a cross-country trek until her eventual mad dash escape to a gas station in February. 

James W. Parrillo Jr., 57, was arrested by New Jersey State Police on Feb. 7, 2023, after the woman ran from a residence in Bass River Township, where the pair had been staying for about two weeks, and fled to safety at a nearby gas station. At that time, Parrillo was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, hindering apprehension and criminal restraint.

An 11-count indictment issued by a grand jury on May 3 added six charges against Parrillo: two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree criminal coercion and one count of second-degree theft by extortion. 

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin on Wednesday announced the new charges of first-degree aggravated sexual assault against Parrillo, and in doing so, again pleaded to the public for information about the man who sources previously told Fox News Digital is a skilled conman who is believed to have used different aliases to prey on women for decades. 

James W. Parrillo DMV photo

James W. Parrillo Jr., 57, is believed to have preyed on other women after one alleged victim escaped to a New Jersey gas station, leading to his arrest. (New Jersey Office of The Attorney General)

A short time later, New Jersey State Troopers located Parrillo walking on the shoulder of County Road 542 and took him into custody. 

The victim met the suspect, who introduced himself as “Brett Parker,” at a gas station on Interstate 10 in New Mexico in February 2022. She agreed to give him a ride to Arizona, entering into a voluntary relationship with Parrillo for about three weeks until he allegedly physically assaulted her while the two were in California, according to information placed on the record during court proceedings and in documents filed in the case. 

At that point, the woman told police she felt unable to leave the relationship, and Parrillo allegedly sexually assaulted her on different occasions and used threats of bodily injury to restrict her freedom. The woman said she had been held captive while the pair traveled across the country, before arriving in New Jersey in December 2022.

In 2018, he is believed to have introduced himself as “Jay Cerilo,” or his nickname “Medic,” a supposed millionaire veteran with cancer, upon meeting and charming a California transgender woman named Kira Moon along on the Pacific Crest Trail. Parrillo would later allegedly hold Moon captive for months at an abandoned ranger station, beating and raping Moon. 

After eventually gaining his trust, Moon accompanied Parrillo on a trip into town for supplies, before making a mad dash for an urgent care clinic in a strip mall. Moon’s sister said staff locked the door and called the police, but despite hospital records supporting the claim that Moon had been assaulted, authorities did not pursue a case against Parrillo. 

Parrillo has also been accused of being behind the 1993-1994 months-long kidnapping of Valerie Earick, a Florida single mother who was in her 30s at the time, sources said. 

Parrillo did time in the early 2000s for allegedly plotting with a Los Angeles woman named Laura Michele Lyde to kidnap her children away from their father, Backpacker reported in 2019. 

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office noted in its announcement Wednesday that “In successfully arguing for pre-trial detention, the State said information provided by the alleged victim, along with information found on social media and other online websites, indicate that Parrillo may have engaged in similar predatory conduct with individuals in other states.”

The AG’s office encouraged anyone with information about Parrillo to call the New Jersey State Police hotline at 855-363-6548.

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