Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 21, 2013

14-year-old credited for bravery in attack rescue

LINCOLN TOWNSHIP (AP) — A 14-year-old central Michigan boy who came to the rescue of a rape victim fleeing a homicidal ex-convict is drawing praise from his family.

James Persyn III was home alone with his 11-year-old sister and 2-year-old brother Wednesday night when a Central Michigan University student started banging on the door and screaming for help.

"Her voice was, like, she was going to die if I didn't open that door," James told the Detroit Free Press ) for a story Sunday.

Their father, James Persyn Jr., 36, had left to pick up fiancee Tiffany Ramon, 28. Her shift had just ended at her family's business, J & M Produce and Nursery, a few miles away.

"A lot of people, maybe most people, would've been like, 'Get the hell off my porch,'" their father said.

Instead, James unlocked the door, and the woman ran in.

"She's like, "We got to hide! There's someone out there who just kidnapped me and he's trying to kill me,'" James said.

The woman had packing tape wrapped around her body, a bruised face and an arm she said broke when she jumped from a vehicle her attacker was driving.

The woman told authorities she was walking to her car in a university parking lot when Eric Ramsey, a 30-year-old ex-convict, approached her with a gun, got into her vehicle, took her to his mother's house and raped her.

Authorities said later that the weapon was a BB gun made to look like a handgun. Ramsey was eventually shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy.

James said that after letting the woman in, he locked the front door and ran to the side door to lock it, too. He herded everyone into the bathroom to hide. The woman, 11-year-old Acelin and 2-year-old Angus Persyn joined her.

James went to his bedroom and grabbed his hunting knife. He pulled his Labrador retriever into the bathroom and closed the door, which has no lock, then turned off the lights.

"Let me in or I'll kill you," he said Ramsey kept shouting.

After the woman called 911, James said he called his father.

"We need help right now," James said he told his father. "There's a man outside our door trying to get in, and I'm really afraid."

The father jumped in his car and raced to the home.

Meanwhile, Ramsey got a gas can from his vehicle, doused the side of the house, set it on fire and then fled.

James Persyn Jr. arrived home soon after and was dousing the fire when sheriff's deputies showed up as well.

Ramsey was spotted early Thursday in Otsego County, where he rammed the first of two state police cars. He then stole a garbage truck and was fatally shot by a deputy in Crawford County, about 70 miles north of the university.

James and his sister took one day off school. When they returned to class Friday, people came up to congratulate the 14-year-old boy for the way he protected his family.

His father said James merely did the right thing.

"We never put the word 'hero' out there," James Persyn Jr. said. "We just kept saying, 'We're proud of you.' "œ

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