Demotte man sentenced to probation in cross-country kidnapping

A Demotte man was sentenced Feb. 28 to 18 months probation after kidnapping his longtime girlfriend from a Merrillville dollar store parking lot and driving her to Nebraska, court records show.

William Brittingham III, 55, pleaded guilty that day to confinement, a Level 6 felony.

He has to complete a batterer’s intervention program and can petition to change his conviction to a misdemeanor if he completes all court-ordered requirements in the case.

Court records allege he was enraged, accusing the woman of cheating on him with a co-worker.

The couple’s decade-long relationship had been volatile, witnesses said. Brittingham was “angry at the world,” but had never physically hurt her and the kidnapping was out of character, the girlfriend told police. He was headed to Oregon, she said.

That morning on Jan. 12, 2022, she gave the co-worker a ride to the store where he worked. They were sitting in her car at 5:30 a.m., a few hours before the store opened, when Brittingham pulled into the parking lot, she said.

Brittingham got out of his truck, punching him several times, knocking him to the ground, court documents said. He flashed a gun and threatened to arrest the other man, before taking off with the woman back to Demotte, charges state.

Police later found her car in the dollar store parking lot.

After returning home, Brittingham grabbed guns, money, ammunition and their dogs. He ordered the woman into the truck before they took off on Interstate 80, documents allege.

He told a witness he would “drive south” and “kill her” and himself, charges state. Other witnesses contacted police, worried in his emotional state, it would “end badly,” documents state.

Brittingham was headed west to “find his own peace,” the woman said. He texted a witness that he would kill himself in front of her, so she would have to live with it, charges allege.

Brittingham forced her to leave her things in Demotte and took out the SIM card from her cellphone, so it couldn’t be tracked. He took off her handcuffs and later told the woman to call her family, but warned her to not say where they were. He said he wouldn’t hurt her if she took care of their dogs, documents said.

Authorities were able to track his cellphone with the vehicle under surveillance by the Nebraska State Patrol. Deputies started to pull the truck over near Grand Island, about two hours west of Omaha. The truck got “stuck” doing a U-turn and they arrested him, charges state.

Post-Tribune archives contributed.