MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A local wrecker driver said an Oklahoma City man who kidnapped him at gunpoint had him drive around aimlessly.

“We drove around Oklahoma for a couple hours,” said Jonathon Serrato. “We went to Tulsa, Siloam Springs and Fayetteville before everything was all said and done. The whole time, he kept saying somebody was after him. We had a bunch of different cars passing us and he would point at one of them and say somebody was after me.”

Rafael Torres, 35, faces extradition from Conway County, Arkansas, after kidnapping Serrato on Monday from McIntosh County, according to a release from the McIntosh County District Attorney’s Office.

Torres was charged Thursday with kidnapping, feloniously pointing a firearm, and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. Torres allegedly forced Serrato, a driver for Morgan’s Wrecker, to drive Torres over 450 miles from McIntosh County to Tulsa and then back across the state line into Arkansas.

According to an affidavit filed with the case, Serrato was traveling on Interstate 40 near mile marker 254 when he spotted a silver car in a ditch. Torres was standing in the roadway and waving his hands. After Serrato stopped to check on him, Torres approached the wrecker and demanded a ride. When Serrato refused, Torres threatened him with a .45 caliber handgun. 

“I saw a car wrecked in the ditch eastbound side. I pulled over to check over on him. He came up to me saying, ‘I need to get somewhere safe,’” Serrato said. “I called dispatch and said I needed OHP [Oklahoma Highway Patrol] out to my location. He ran around the side of the door, produced a gun and basically forced himself inside.”

From there, Torres commanded Serrato to drive.

Torres was arrested in Morrilton, Arkansas, after the wrecker stopped for fuel. Serrato signaled for someone to notify authorities of his situation, the affidavit states.

“What it was, we’d stopped for fuel at a little gas station. I told him I had to go inside and pay with a company card. He asked me can you pay with cash, and I said we need more than I got on me in cash,” Serrato said. “He finally allowed me to get out of the truck to go inside and pay for the fuel. I told him I was going to use the bathroom. I asked a gentleman to call 911 for me.”

When police arrived, Torres went peacefully, Serrato said.

“He didn’t put up a fight or resist much,” Serrato said. “From what I hear, he isn’t denying any of it, either.”

Torres has a history with carjacking, according to the affidavit. He was convicted in 2004, 2005 and 2007 on separate charges of taking a vehicle without consent. All of those cases took place in Los Angeles County, California.

Torres is being held without bond in the Conway County Jail. As for Serrato, he went back to work the next day, he said.

“My grandpa used to say if the horse bucks you, you get right back on and you keep on going,” Serrato said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time.”


Oxendine writes for Muskogee Phoenix, a CNHI News Service publication.

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