Just imagine surviving a 56-hour kidnap ordeal.
An associate of mine, who is a big fan of actor J oe Mantegna’s heroic fictional character FBI Agent David Rossi on Criminal Minds, was recently abducted by an actual criminal enterprise, in front of his home, right off the street.
My associate, let’s call him “Mr. X,” was blindfolded and bound up like an animal, then abducted to an unknown location away from the city and his family. He was given only limited amounts of water. And was threatened with violence, death and worse if he didn’t give up the passcodes to his online banking apps—their goal was easy money from access to these bank apps.
The story is still under legal and police investigation, so we have to tread lightly. But a barefoot Mr. X finally found a way to outwit his abductors and fortunately make his way home to safety. But over the course of three harrowing days, he relied on his instinct, intelligence and understanding of human nature, along with one other constant—what would fictional FBI Agent David Rossi do?
Mr. X suggests, “Joe Mantegna is great as Agent Rossi, I admire his style and professionalism, even as a fictional character. I was kept in solitude, with time to think and weigh up my awful predicament—they could’ve killed me at any moment. So, I channeled Rossi from the very first day. When they were trying to wear me down. I would consider what Rossi would do, and what I might do to lead someone like Rossi to find me. Even though I didn’t know exactly where I was, I realized I needed to leave bread crumbs for the authorities.”
That was clever. And, Mr. X says he mostly “remained cold” and hyper-vigilant throughout his 56-hour ordeal, playing out scenarios in his head to work out his best chances of survival. He also dropped several clues including, leaving his finger prints in odd but strategic places and, other signs of his presence in the locations that he was kept.
But also like Agent Rossi, he figured it would help if he could think like his abductors, explaining: “I also tried to channel Agent Rossi’s analysis of my kidnappers’ mindset. Rossi often asks, What did they really want? Who was on the other side of the calls—that is, who was the kingpin, the head of the beast? Also, what would I say to create doubt amongst them? Could I turn them against each other, which Rossi often does? He gets into the minds of his adversaries. But always remains calm. So, I focused on trying hard not to show fear, even if I did panic momentarily, or it would’ve been curtains for me. In fact, I even turned the tables on them, staying calm when they pointed a gun in my face—I responded with defiance and a little laugh, which kind of freaked them out and drove them batshit crazy.”
On top of that, and taking another page from Rossi’s book of getting under his adversary’s skin, Mr. X admits, “My final play was to convince the last guy that his mates had double-crossed him. So, I turned him, and got him to agree to let me go—which meant hightailing it out of the trunk of his vehicle, running barefoot and finding a Good Samaritan who helped me.”
When Mr. X was questioned by the authorities, they wanted to check him out medically but what he wanted to do first and foremost was to recall every detail that could help. Incidentally, still keeping ice-cool, when paramedics took his vitals, his blood pressure stayed low at 120/80, with a heart resting rate of 72.
Indeed, Mr. X adds, “The authorities were impressed with my mental strength and focused efforts. They believed it played a major role in obtaining my eventual freedom. I told them I had only one goal, to see my loved ones again. When you’re alone for those hours, I tried to picture everyone I loved including my family, my parents, my brothers, and friends. So, I had to get out alive to see them again. I had to behave in a way that could offer the best chance of getting out. There were so many guns against me but I found a way to overcome all of that.”
What a lionheart Mr. X was, all thanks to his indomitable spirit and a lot of leaning on actor Joe Mantegna’s fictional hero, Agent David Rossi.
Ashley is an award-winning journalist/author/blogger who has written for Playboy, Toronto Star, Movie Entertainment, Sports Illustrated, Maclean's and others. He's interviewed various "leaders" in their fields, including: Oscar winners (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander, Jane Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, Anthony Hopkins); Grammy winners (Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Ice Cube, Pete Townshend); MVPs in sports (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Kobe Bryant); and, business leaders (Amazon's Jeff Bezos). He has an upcoming novel, REJEX, coming out on Pulp Hero Press. And he has written several episodic TV shows, appeared on CNN, and blogged for Mademan, Medium, GritDaily and HuffPost.