Associated Press Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A woman said Thursday she gave her driver's license to a former co-worker who told her she needed it to fix office paperwork, and had no knowledge of her plans to fake her abduction and fly with her daughter to Florida.
Jillian Jenkinson said on CBS' "The Early Show" that Bonnie Sweeten's request to use her ID to fix a discrepancy on her 401(k) "seemed innocent."
Sweeten and her 9-year-old daughter, Julia Rakoczy, were taken into custody Wednesday night at an Orlando hotel, said Bucks County, Pa., District Attorney Michelle Henry.
Jenkinson said she had worked with Sweeten for nine years, but didn't specify where they had worked together. She described Sweeten as a good mother who was always on top of things.
"I think whatever's going on in her life is a way bigger issue than my ID," Jenkinson said. "I hope that she's OK."
Henry said Sweeten presented the borrowed driver's license as her own when she bought an airline ticket in Philadelphia and flew to Orlando with her daughter.
They had minimal luggage and the hotel was paid through Friday, Henry said. Sweeten had withdrawn about $12,000 from several bank accounts over recent days, but authorities were investigating whether that money had been stolen.
"We believe that there were some domestic concerns with her husband and some financial concerns as well," Henry said.
In frantic 911 calls on Tuesday, Sweeten said two men had bumped her SUV, carjacked her and stuffed her in the trunk of a dark Cadillac. She implied that her daughter was with her in the trunk, according to Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore, who listened to tapes of the calls.
Sweeten, who is white, described her assailants as black but otherwise gave few details about their appearance, Vanore said.
Police found inconsistencies with her story from the start, and noted that they could not find witnesses on the busy road in Upper Southampton Township who saw an abduction. The Denali was found early Wednesday on a downtown Philadelphia street, about 20 miles away, with a parking ticket issued shortly after the calls were made. Police knew the 911 calls were made in the same area.
Sweeten has two other daughters, a 15-year-old from a prior marriage and an 8-month-old with her current husband, a landscaper. Julia Rakoczy attended elementary school in Bensalem until she was withdrawn from classes May 1, said Susan Harder, an administrative assistant with the Bensalem Township School District.
Her ex-husband and the 9-year-old girl's father, Anthony Rakoczy, said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that he thinks she got in over her head and "lost it a little bit."
"I've known this woman for a long time," he said. "She's always been very together, tons of friends. Everybody loves her."
He said he thinks she needs help, and he will make sure her kids will be involved in her life no matter what.
Sweeten, 38, of Feasterville, is listed as a director of a New Hope-based charity called The Carlitz Foundation, run by lawyer Debbie Carlitz. The charity's stated goal is raising money for autism research and for people in Burma. Carlitz did not return e-mail or phone messages Wednesday night.
"Bonnie was a very, very organized person," said Susan Cordeiro, secretary of the parent-teacher group at Belmont Hills Elementary School in Bensalem, which Julia had attended. "She was at every meeting, she was very involved. … She's on top of her game all the time, even when she was pregnant."
Associated Press writers Bill Bergstrom in Feasterville, Pa., Patrick Walters in Southampton, Pa., and Jennifer Yates in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.