Student charged with kidnapping


Todd Vanderwerff And Tanya Marsh

Brookings native and Young Hall resident Benjamin Garry was charged with one class one felony count of kidnapping and one class three felony count of aggravated assault before the Brookings County grand jury Friday.

Garry is alleged to have kidnapped his former girlfriend, Stephanie Erschens, and held her in his Young Hall dorm room on the evening of Monday, October 13. He is also alleged to have threatened Erschens with a knife in the process of the alleged kidnapping, leading to the aggravated assault charge.

Garry’s initial appearance in court was scheduled for Monday morning, but he did not appear and was issued a continuance to Tues., Nov. 4 at 1:30 p.m.

Garry posted his $5000 bond last week and is not staying in jail.

According to the police report filed by University Police Department officer Brett Spencer, Garry called Erschens at her home from Perkins, saying he wanted to speak with her about getting back together. After she told him that was not possible, he threatened to kill himself. She agreed to come and speak with him later, in exchange for his not hurting himself. She called a friend so someone would know where she was.

According to Spencer’s report, Erschens also called her current boyfriend, Ryan Bouza, and told him she would stop by his dorm room after talking with Garry, since Bouza lives only four doors down from Garry.

The report goes on to allege that when Erschens got to Young Hall, Garry was standing outside just as Bouza was leaving the building. Garry is then alleged to have waved the knife at Bouza and asked Bouza if he wanted a fight.

The report also alleges that Erschens stopped Garry from waving the knife, then accompanied him to his dorm room, where he is said to have locked his door. There, Garry and Erschens allegedly had a heated argument about their relationship and Garry allegedly threatened that he would kill Erschens. Erschens allegedly asked if she could leave, but Garry allegedly refused and put his hands around her neck to hold her down.

After several more alleged threats from Garry and attempts by Erschens to call anyone in her cell phone address book or escape, Erschens was allegedly finally able to escape. She ran to Bouza’s room and he called the police.

According to Spencer’s report, Garry had one of his friends bring him to the UPD building. There, Garry spoke with officer Spencer.

Initially, Spencer only placed Garry under arrest for simple assault on Erschens and aggravated assault on Bouza, but after investigation, he added the charge of kidnapping.

The knife Garry used was lost when he threw it out the window of his car in the country.

Residents of the floor on Young Hall where Garry lived say that he kept to himself and that few on the floor really knew him.

“He wasn’t outgoing in the hall. … All the guys on this end – nobody knew him,” said sophomore engineering major Travis Luebke.

Luebke also said he had heard yelling coming from Garry’s room on occasions in the past.

“It wasn’t the first time I’d heard heated discussion coming from that room,” Luebke said. “I’d be able to walk by his room and hear yelling.”

Erschens and Spencer were the two witnesses at the grand jury hearing, where Garry was officially charged with kidnapping and aggravated assault.

An initial charge of simple assault was dropped.

Prosecuting attorney Clyde Calhoon, of Calhoon and Kratochvil, said Garry’s trial will likely be held sometime in the next six months.

“Any prosecution has to be concluded or has to go to trial within six months, unless its continued by the defendent,” Calhoon said.