Kidnapping suspect stopped for pizza during pursuit

Published 10:31 am Thursday, January 12, 2012

A 27-year-old homeless man is in the Mower County jail after allegedly kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and leading police on a five-hour wild goose chase.

According to Sheriff Terese Amazi, Zachary Rahlf was arrested in Rochester around 10 p.m. Wednesday after at least seven area law enforcement agencies took part in the evening pursuit that wound through Dexter, Owatonna, Kasson and Rochester.

The ordeal began around 3:30 p.m. when Rahlf and his ex-girlfriend, Jessica Piland, 22, met at Lake Geo Travel Plaza in Dexter so Piland could retrieve some of her belongings. A friend of Piland’s drove her to meet Rahlf. According to Amazi, Rahlf pushed Piland into his vehicle and drove away with her hanging half out the car.

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Piland’s friend immediately called police and began pursuing Rahlf’s vehicle until officers got involved, Amazi said.

Piland reportedly attempted to call her friend during the chase. The friend told police screaming could be heard on one of the calls and another was a hang-up. However, surveillance tapes obtained from Kwik Trip in Owatonna show Rahlf and Piland getting gasoline and buying pizza. Rahlf also made a phone call from the gas station pay phone, Amazi said.

Police tracked the two throughout Mower, Dodge, Steele and Olmsted Counties. Rahlf dropped Piland off at her parents’ house in Kasson around 9:15 p.m., according to Amazi, but officers have been unable to reach Piland for an eyewitness account of the incident.

Amazi said the investigation is ongoing, but officers would like to speak with Piland before they file a formal complaint against Rahlf in Mower County District Court.