A Montana woman called her husband and police from the trunk of her car after she was abducted at a rest stop off I-15 Tuesday morning.
Rita Maze, pictured with her daughter Rochelle Maze, was on her way home to Great Falls, Montana, after visiting her mother in Helena when she was taken.
Maze, 47, called her husband at about 10:30 p.m, police told CBS affiliate KXLY. She was hysterical.
“Help me, help me!” she said, according to her daughter Rochelle.
Maze told her husband that she was at a rest stop near Wolf Creek, Montana, when a man approached her from behind and hit her on the head. The man locked Maze in the trunk and drove off in her car.
She described her kidnapper as a black male or a man of American Indian descent, 6′ 5″ tall, wearing a black hoodie.
Her husband reported her missing after taking her call, according to KXLY.
She didn’t know her exact location, so police in Montana and Washington state tracked her cell phone signal through three northwestern states using cell towers.
Police jurisdictions all over the country were given a description of her black Pontiac Grand Prix.
2 hours after her phone call, Maze’s car was found in Spokane, WA, about 325 miles from Helena, where she was raised with 10 brothers and sisters. She was found dead in the trunk of her car.
Authorities believe she was killed in Spokane.
“There were phone conversations with her… from the Helena Police Department, just prior to her death,” Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton told KXLY. “So we’re relatively certain of the time when she became deceased.”
Dutton said police were able to narrow their search for the car when a license plate reader in Idaho notified them that her car had crossed into the city of Post Falls.
Her car and body were found near the Spokane International Airport about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Her death is believed to be a homicide, authorities told the CBS affiliate.
Maze was a longtime cook at Morningside Elementary School in Great Falls.
Police say they have a person of interest after reviewing surveillance footage from a convenience store.
A GoFundMe page was created to help defray the funeral costs. So far, $8,000 has been raised toward a goal of $10,000.
Rochelle Maze told the Great Falls Tribune she spoke to her mother for about 10 minutes before she died.
“I told her that I loved her,” Rochelle Maze said. “That’s the last thing she heard.”
Rochelle said the phone went dead and she was unable to reach her again.
“My mom was always a playful mom,” she said. “She was always swimming with us in the pool and throwing us around. Taking us on park days and always being a kid with us. She was a child at heart at all times. That is what I remember about my mom.”