An elderly woman was badly beaten, tied up, abducted from her home and left in her own car for two days, according to investigators. Thursday, her son allowed cameras into his mother's hospital room.
The images of Natalie Herbst-Vinge, known as Sandy, were so disturbing, the decision was made not to show the victim's face. Her face is covered in black and blue bruises and was very swollen. According to her son, she's suffering from blurred vision and is having difficulty controlling one eye. Her skin is ripped and she has scabbing around her wrists where she was bound with duct tape. She did not want to speak according to photographers who visited her. Investigators described the beating as "severe".
San Diego Sheriff's deputies have arrested three people in the abduction and beating - two men and one woman - all under the age of 20.
Herbst-Vinge's son says one of the suspects went to the victim's home on Resmar Place in unincorporated La Mesa to clean the carpet. Instead, the son says, the suspect sold his mother a vacumn cleaner for $2,300, came back to thank her Monday, saying the sale helped him win a trip to Hawaii. That night, the suspect returned again saying he needed to use the phone because he had broken up with his girlfriend. That's when Herbst-Vinge's son says the suspect attacked his mother, bound her with duct tape, and dragged her to her Dodge wagon.
When Herbst-Vinge woke up, two other suspects were also in the vehicle according to the victim's son. Herbst-Vinge chewed through the duct tape and screamed for help while they were at a gas station, to no avail. The suspects then parked the car for the night, leaving Herbst-Vinge inside, said investigators. The next day, the suspects returned, then drove around the County with Herbst-Vinge in the trunk.
Deputies said they tried to pull over the wagon for running a red light on Tangerine Street in El Cajon shortly after midnight Wednesday, but the driver refused to yield and eventually managed to elude officers. Shortly afterward, deputies spotted the vehicle with the suspects inside, who fled on foot. Luis Osbourne, 18, was taken into custody immediately, Jeffrey Nelson, 19 and Antoinette Baker, 19, were arrested after a manhunt in the area.
Deputies found Herbst-Vinge tied up in the back of the car.
“This is highly unusual ... especially for the amount of time that we’re looking at here -- with several days in one vehicle, that’s a bit unusual, and for someone who’s 75,” Sgt. Mark Varnau said.
A shovel was found in the back of the car, but investigators say they’re not jumping to any conclusions.
“You could infer that that’s there for some particular reason other than gardening, but it may simply belong to the victim,” Varnau said.
Herbst-Vinge's son says the mother of three and grandmother of two is refusing medication but wanted to show people that she is okay and doesn't want people to worry about her. She's listed in good condition at Sharp Hospital.
Investigators say the motive was financial gain.