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Victim shoots, kills her kidnapper

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MT. JULIET -- A Gallatin man was found dead in Mississippi Friday morning, nearly two days after abducting a Gallatin woman at the Kangaroo Gas Station in Mt. Juliet.

According to authorities, Stephen Lynn Cronk, 58, asked an unidentified 18-year-old female acquaintance to meet him at the gas station Wednesday around 4 p.m. The two had known each other since June, but were not in a romantic relationship. He said he was going on vacation, and wanted to say bye to her. She agreed and met him at the gas station.

Things went strange inside the car, said Mt. Juliet Police Department Det. David Stolinski.

Once inside the car, he pulled a gun on her. He then proceeded to drive to Aberdeen, Miss.

They arrived in Aberdeen around 10:30 or 11 p.m., Wednesday. Cronk restrained her and got a hotel room. He forced her to perform sexual acts at gunpoint. He was distracted during the encounter, and she grabbed the gun, firing once into his abdomen. He fled, and she barricaded herself in the hotel room, calling 911 a little after midnight Thursday morning. Friday morning at 6 a.m., Cronk was found dead at a gas station in Hamilton, Miss. The cause of death was uncertain as of the press conference. Hamilton is approximately 12 miles southeast of Aberdeen.

This was a very brave young lady, Stolinski said, adding police would not be releasing her name out of respect to what she had been through.

This is something she would really like to forget, Stolinski explained.

Cronk was not a registered sex offender. He had one previous arrest in El Paso, Texas, but it was unclear at the time of the press conference what it was for.

By all accounts, everyone thought he was a decent man, Stolinski said regarding the people who knew Cronk.

He was a retired truck driver. Cronk met the victim at her work, and the two had been friends since June. Stolinski said the relationship seemed to be more like a fatherly type.

He said this was a peculiar situation, so it wasnt like most kidnappings. This wasnt a stranger-danger situation.

The detective said the young woman did what she had to do.

I feel very strongly her life was in grave danger, Stolinski said, adding it was a matter of survival, and she survived.

By KENNY HOWELL, Special to The Wilson Post

Editors Note: Kenny Howell is the managing editor of The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet. He may be contacted at Editor@thechronicleofmtjuliet.com. Information from a news release from the Mt. Juliet Police Department was also used in this article.

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