'He threw me out': 6-year-old recalls moments when kidnapping suspect stole her family's car

Jessica Willey Image
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
'He threw me out': 6-year-old recalls terrifying carjacking ordeal
Carjacking suspect arrested after stealing a car with a 6-year-old girl inside at the Oakridge Apartments on Rushcreek near Northborough, HPD says.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 6-year-old girl is telling ABC13 her traumatic story of being kidnapped in a carjacking right outside her old apartment in north Houston.

"Yes, I was very scared," Sofia, a first grader, told Eyewitness News. "I'm telling him, 'What are you doing? This is my car. You're not supposed to be in here.'"

The Houston Police Department was called to the Oakridge Estates Apartments on Rushcreek in the Greenspoint area at about 7 p.m. on Sunday for a kidnapping and carjacking.

Sofia and her family said they were making one last trip for their move from the complex when a man walked past the girl's father and jumped in the driver's seat. Sofia was in the back seat while her mother, Victoria, was upstairs locking the apartment door.

Editor's note: The family asked to keep their last name anonymous.

"I went to see what was going on, and my husband was on the floor. My baby was nowhere to be found, and the car was gone as well," Victoria said.

Victoria said Sofia's father fought with the suspect, identified as 44-year-old Thomas Wendell, and grabbed the steering wheel as Wendell sped off.

The car crashed into a parked car, sending Sofia's father flying over the hood, and Wendell allegedly took off again. He got as far as the apartment gate and made a decision to let the little girl go.

"He opened the door, and then he threw me out," Sofia said.

Sofia suffered some bruising. Her father's injuries were worse. He suffered a concussion, a black eye, and deep cuts to his lips and head.

A phone that was left in the car helped Houston police track it and Wendell to the 4900 block of the North Freeway, which is about 9 miles from where the carjacking happened.

"(Wendell is) just mean. I'm just glad he's away from us," Sofia said.

Police arrested Wendell and charged him with kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, injury to a child, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, all felonies. The bond has not been set.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with medical bills and car repairs.

For more on this story, follow Jessica Willey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.