Sheriff: Mom held at knifepoint escapes by mouthing ‘help me’ to shoppers

MARION COUNTY, Ore. — An Oregon mother and her son managed to escape their alleged captor by signaling strangers after they were abducted in their own home Friday afternoon, officials said.

Investigators say it started when 25-year-old Christopher Hahn-Collins broke into the victim’s Salem house and hid until she and her son returned.

“A woman comes home to her southeast Salem home, finds a man inside,” Lt. Chris Baldridge, with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, told KOIN. “Basically for the next 24 hours, he holds her and her child at knifepoint.”

On Saturday, Hahn-Collins took the woman to a Dick’s Sporting Goods store, according to the sheriff’s office.

Customers said they knew something wasn’t right and called police when they noticed the woman was mouthing the words “help me.”

Baldridge said the other shoppers took her seriously and quickly called 911. Deputies arrested Hahn-Collins before he could leave the store.

While experts say the woman did the right thing by remaining calm, investigators say this case is especially troubling because the pair were strangers before the kidnapping.

“For all intents and purposes, these two don’t know each other,” Baldridge said. “He ends up in her home and keeps her captive for 24 hours.”

Authorities say Hahn-Collins has a history of arrests for sexual abuse and assault. He is facing kidnapping charges and is being held without bail.