Woman raped, restaurant workers stuffed in trunk in violent spree

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A manager and dishwasher at a restaurant near Savannah spent more than an hour in the trunk of one of the men’s cars Saturday during what police call a crime spree in which a woman was raped and their store was robbed.

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson said three men raped a woman, robbed a Carey Hilliard’s restaurant in west Chatham County and then kidnapped manager Jonathan Jelf, 28, and dishwasher Richard Floyd, 46.

‘‘I thought I was going to die,’’ Jelf told the Savannah Morning News. ‘‘I thought they were going to take us back in the woods, open the trunk and blow our brains out.’’

The spree started about 1 a.m. when three men attacked a woman as she was removing her belongings from a car in the parking lot of the InTown Suites motel, Wilson said.

The men forced the woman inside the trunk of her car and attempted to drive off, but they were unable to start the car, according to a police report.

Instead, the men pointed a gun at the woman and led her back to the room where she was staying with a girlfriend. One of the suspects then took the woman back to the car and raped her, Wilson said. After the attack, the suspects stole some money from the women and fled.

They then went to the restaurant, where they were waiting for Jelf when he opened the back door at about 2 a.m. They pulled a handgun, stole $993 from a cash register and snatched Jelf’s car keys, forcing both victims into the trunk of the Toyota Solara.

They drove for about an hour before abandoning the car, Jelf said.

Jelf and Floyd waited for about 10 minutes, then popped a safety latch in the trunk and ran to a nearby restaurant. Neither was seriously injured.

Jelf, of Guyton, said he’s been a manager at the restaurant for a year and eight months. He said he doesn’t know if he’s going to return to work.

‘‘It’s the worst day of my life,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s pretty traumatizing.’’