High-speed police chase in Amber Alert case ends in Woodinville

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

A woman who allegedly kidnapped her son, triggering an Amber Alert, was caught last Monday in Chelan County and taken to Woodinville for questioning before being taken to jail.

Sandra June Bennatts, 34, of Bremerton, was charged with kidnapping, burglary and custodial interference last Thursday. Her bail is set at $1 million, with prosecutors saying she is likely to commit another violent offense or try to flee. Police also said she has a substance abuse problem and mental health issues.

In her attempt to kidnap her son, 6-year-old Mason Bennatts-Miller, Bennatts allegedly assaulted her mother, Sharon Bennatts, who had custody of the child. Bennatts lost custody of her son several months earlier after taking him to Tijuana, Mexico without permission, and a custody hearing was scheduled for May 6, according to court documents. Sharon Bennatts told police that Mason “is autistic and cannot fully comprehend his surroundings at times,” according to court documents.

Charging documents state that Bennatts planned the crime carefully. On the evening of May 4, she waited inside Sharon’s home in unincorporated Auburn for Sharon and Mason to arrive. Bennatts reportedly dragged Sharon down a flight of stairs by her hair, to a room where she had prepared tools for Sharon’s capture.

“The defendant ‘hogtied’ Sharon by using rope and duct tape on her wrists and ankles,” charging documents state. “She suspended Sharon’s body in a storage room so that her knees and shoulders were in the air and only the midsection of her body touched the ground. The defendant gagged Sharon by stuffing a rag in her mouth so that Sharon could barely breathe.”

Bennatts allegedly threatened to kill her mother, and repeatedly hit and kicked her after tying her up.

Bennatts’ son “was horrified as he watched this incident unfold. He screamed, cried and begged the defendant not to hurt his Nana,” the charging documents continue. “He brought blankets and chocolate milk for Sharon. [Mason] begged the defendant for Sharon’s life.”
According to the documents, Bennatts ransacked her mother’s house, taking debit cards, camping gear and Sharon’s car. She then fled with her son in her mother’s car.
Sharon Bennatts was unable to escape for hours, but when she finally did, she ran to a neighbor’s house for help, where she called 911.

Police from the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the FBI, worked together to capture Bennatts, said Detective Jason Stanley with the King County Sheriff’s Office. Citizens and a road crew also called in and gave updates to police, Stanley said.

An Amber Alert was issued Monday morning. Snohomish County deputies spotted Sharon Bennatts’ stolen car, a 2009 Acura, but broke off the chase because of the danger to the child, Stanley said. Bennatts allegedly reached speeds of 100 m.p.h. and was passing cars on both sides of the road.

Shortly before noon on Monday, Bennatts was apprehended by Chelan County deputies on Highway 2, where the car had reportedly run out of gas. Mason was found in the car, and Bennatts was taken to Woodinville — the nearest jurisdiction of the King County Sheriff’s Office — for questioning.

Bennatts is in jail on $1 million bond, with an arraignment scheduled for May 20. Her son is now in protective custody, and Bennatts’ mother, who was hospitalized for her injuries, has been released from the hospital.

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