By Esme Murphy


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Newly-released video captures the harrowing attempted kidnapping of a Twin Cities woman in a small Washington County town last April.

Michael Harker was on parole from Idaho for felony strangulation last April when a surveillance video caught him circling the streets of Willernie.

A woman is seen smoking a cigarette outside a Domino’s Pizza. The van stops and parks across the street. Harker then walks up to the woman, grabs her and forces her across the street towards his van.

“I heard screaming and I thought it was kids playing,” said neighbor Cindy Vadnais.

She then drove a half block to investigate.

“She ran out in front of my car screaming, ‘He’s trying to get me into the van! He is trying to kidnap me!’” Vadnais said.

Michael Harker (credit: Washington County Jail)

The video shows Vadnais’s dark truck trying to block the white van’s escape.

“I just thought, ‘That son of a gun, I’m not going to let him go,’” Vadnais said. “But he had enough room to escape. I could not believe it.”

As Harker drove off, the victim and Vadnais were able to get two key bits of information. The victim got a partial license plate — but Vadnais got something more important.

“I got his last name off of his sign on his van,” she said.

Vadnais followed the van for a few blocks, but returned to help the victim.

“She was just hysterical,” Vadnais said.

Harker was arrested two days later. Vadnais and the victim have since become friends.

“It still really haunts her,” Vadnais said.

She insists she did nothing special.

“I didn’t even have time to be scared … I was more mad,” Vadnais said. “No, I’m not a hero. Anyone would do the same thing. I would do it again.”

Harker pleaded guilty to the attempted kidnapping, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Esme Murphy