Kidnapped Woman: "OnStar Saved My Life"

When police arrived, robber punched cop in the face

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A robber forces a woman into her car at gunpoint, but she says a quick push of the OnStar emergency button saved her life. Listen to her tell her own story of survival. (Published Monday, May 17, 2010)

    A woman being held at gunpoint by a robber who forced her and her husband into their car made a desperate attempt to get help by pushing the vehicle's OnStar button when the thief was distracted -- and she says it worked.

    The robbery happened early Friday morning on the South Side. 

    Jerrell Arterberry approached a man in his 50s as he walked to his home in the 7400 block of South Harvard Avenue and demanded money at gunpoint about 4:30 a.m. Friday, according to police and an eye witness. 

    The thief made the man wake his sleeping wife, and demanded all their money.  When he wasn't satisfied with the amount they had, the woman said she offered him a check, which they could cash at a Currency Exchange.

    Arterberry then forced the couple into their black, four-door 2010 Cadillac at gunpoint, and made the woman to drive them to a Currency Exchange at South Vincennes Avenue and West 79th Street, police said.

    On the way, the woman told NBC Chicago she did all she could to flag down police, flashing her headlights and mouthing the words, "help me!"  But it didn't work.

    When they got to the Currency Exchange, the woman made another quick move to save herself, leaving the check in the car when they got out, so she'd have just one moment by herself.

    "I said, 'Well, can I look back into the car?' He said, 'Yes,'" she said.  "I bent down ... and I put my hand on the brake, and I hit the OnStar button.  And it didn't go off."

    Not yet defeated, she gave the robber the check, but asked him if she could get her jacket still inside the car.

    "I knew that my keys are in the jacket, and it's an automatic remote ... and I hit the brake again and I pushed the OnStar button again, and the lady goes, 'OnStar emergency how can I help you?'  He didn't hear it, and I slammed the door, 'Bam!'"

    Inside the Currency Exchange, the woman continued to try to get help, mouthing the words, "Call the police" to the clerk behind the counter.   The clerk eventually called for help, but police and the woman say it was the OnStar system's request for aid that first sent officers.

    When officers arrived at the Currency Exchange, the woman says she told police they were being robbed and pointed to Arterberry. Officers wrestled with Arterberry as the gun in his waistband fell out his pant leg and eventually subdued and arrested him, police said.

    During the struggle, Arterberry punched a female police officer in the face, according to police.

    Arterberry, 24, of the 3200 block of West Walton Street, was charged at 1:32 a.m. Saturday with one count each of aggravated battery to a police officer and home invasion, according to police, who said Arterberry was on parole.

    He was ordered held on $50,000 bail and was booked into the Cook County Jail on Saturday, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office Web site.

    Calumet Area detectives continue to investigate.