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Woman protected from rapist by boy, 14, with hunting knife after she leaps from car

Police shoot and kill an accused rapist who allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted a woman before she managed to escape and hide in a home where a 14-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister sheltered her. WEYI's Jane Park reports.

It was a night of mayhem and bravery that central Michigan will not soon forget.

A young woman who was abducted at gunpoint made a daring escape Wednesday night from her rapist into a house full of kids that was later set on fire by her attacker, police said.

The suspect, identified as Eric Lee Ramsey, 30, of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., was later fatally shot by police after he got into a series of hit and runs with police vehicles in a sanitation truck he had stolen. But before he died, he apparently tweeted that he was going to be shot

The incident began Wednesday when Ramsey allegedly kidnapped the woman from Central Michigan University's campus, and brought her to a home where he bound and sexually assaulted her, according to a statement from Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski.

Ramsey then put the woman in the back of a car, retrieved two gas cans and began driving. He purportedly told the woman “he was going to take her life,” Mioduszewski said. After hearing that, the woman jumped out of the car and ran to a nearby home, she told police.

Michigan Department of Corrections via AP

Eric Ramsey, a Michigan Dept. of Corrections parolee, was shot and killed by police after allegedly abducting and sexually assaulting a CMU student, setting a house on fire and stealing a sanitation truck that he rammed into police vehicles.

Alone inside that Lincoln Township home were a 14-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister and 2-year-old brother. The teenager, James Persyn III, told Mlive.com that he let the woman in, locked the door and grabbed his hunting knife.

While the woman called 911 from inside the home, the suspect “ended up pouring gasoline on the house and then lit it on fire,” and fled the scene, Mioduszewski said. One of the homeowners arrived soon after and was able to extinguish the fire.

Mioduszewski said police were given a description of the suspect’s vehicle and obtained a search warrant for the house where the sexual assault occurred.

Several hours later, a vehicle matching the description rammed a Michigan state trooper's car. The suspect fled the scene, stole a sanitation truck and then rammed another state police trooper’s car.

A short time later, a Crawford County deputy located the sanitation truck and his vehicle also was rammed by the suspect. The deputy got out of the car, ran up to the cab of the pickup and fired shots, fatally wounding Ramsey.

On Thursday, CMU Campus Police Chief Bill Yeagley told The Associated Press that the suspect told the woman that he chose her at random outside the Student Activity Center on campus. The chief said the woman saved her own life by fleeing from the car.

Colleen Harrison / AP

James Persyn III, right, 14, was in his Lincoln Township home with his 11 year-old sister and 2 year-old brother when an abducted CMU student banged on their door.

“I believe she made all the right choices,” Yeagley said. “She’s the true hero in this.”

In a statement on the CMU website, President George Ross said students, faculty and staff received texts and emails of the "horrible but isolated incident" shortly after midnight Thursday, and that the university would bolster campus security.

"Each of us needs to be prepared, to be wise, to look out for each other," Ross said. "Not only do we want you to be safe, we want you to feel safe and we will continue to work hard to maintain a safe environment."

Ramsey had been on parole since last summer after serving the minimum five-year prison sentence for assault with the intent to do great bodily harm, according to the Michigan State Department of Corrections.

“The parole board generally doesn’t give a rationale for why or why they don’t parole (an inmate),” Russ Marlan, a Corrections Department spokesman told the AP. “I looked at his behavior in prison. He was pretty good. He had six misconducts over five years. That’s a small amount. He was in minimum security the entire time.”

Ramsey had a job, regularly met with his parole officer and had tested negative for drugs, Marlan said.

His record also included convictions for destruction of police or fire property, resisting police and assault with a dangerous weapon.

The case remains under investigation by the Isabella County Sheriff’s Department and the Central Michigan University Police Department and the Michigan State Police.