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Neighbors on high alert after kidnapping charges dropped against Battle Creek man

WWMT Grand Rapids/Lansing logo WWMT Grand Rapids/Lansing 6/17/2021 Trisha McCauley | News Channel 3
Neighbors on high alert after kidnapping charges dropped against Battle Creek man

A Battle Creek man’s home caught fire days after the Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office dropped kidnapping charges against him.

Unable to find the alleged victim in the kidnapping case, investigators said prosecutors dropped the charges and neighbors said they were on high alert after the man was freed.

A Battle Creek mother said she saw the man try to grab her own children, before police say he tried to kidnap a woman less than a mile away.

“It was absolutely terrifying, there’s no scarier moment that I’ve had in my life ever than trying to save my children from somebody who is a stranger, unknown to us," said Samantha Ashworth.

Ashworth said she and her two kids were enjoying a summer day at the pool in her parent’s backyard, May 21, 2021, until a stranger arrived.

“He came up through the yard went straight for the kids and he came out of nowhere, it was absolutely terrifying," she said.

Ashworth said she yelled at her kids to get inside the house. Minutes later, she said her brother arrived and chased the man away.

"I don’t know what I would have done if anything have went any differently," she said.

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Battle Creek police said the man was 38-year-old Robert Martinez. Later that same day, they said Martinez went down the street and grabbed a 34-year-old woman off her bike and tried to pull her into his car. With the help of bystanders, the woman was able to get away.

The Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office charged Martinez with kidnapping, but the charges were dropped because they couldn't find the victim, who was suspected to be homeless.

Police said the investigation was ongoing and if they were able to find the alleged victim or more information, they would pursue charges.

Martinez was charged with prowling for the incident with the Ashworth and, as of June 16, was a free man.

“I'm infuriated, there’s absolutely no justice for the kids," Ashworth said. "My concern is I don’t think I’ll be a repeat victim but I’m afraid for the victims that could be next.”

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Police said days after charges were dropped, Martinez’s home at the Creek Valley Mobile Home Park caught fire on June 13.

The Bedford Township Fire Department called the fire suspicious.

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