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Couple's car keys stolen, ransom note found

Updated: Monday, October 28 2013, 06:52 PM CDT
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

SHIPPENSBURG -- A 20-year-old Shippensburg man was arrested, accused of stealing a neighbor's car two times and trying to extort money from the Roxbury Road couple.

The twists and turns of the story began Thursday when Marcia Ellinger discovered her red Volkswagon Beetle was missing from their driveway.

Also missing were keys from her husband's car.

Police found the Volkswagon, undamaged, a few blocks from their home on Saturday. His car keys were not recovered.

Later that day, the couple found a ransom note sitting on Ben Ellinger's car. It told a sad tale of financial difficulties and told the couple that their keys would be returned to them if they placed $500 dollars in Ben's car. If they didn't comply with that demand, their car would be stolen again.

There also was a letter telling the couple that, if they wanted to get their keys back, they would not contact police. Despite that threat, Ben Ellinger did contact Shippensburg police and State Police. The police put the two cars under surveillance. 

Sunday, the red Volkswagon was taken again, but police tracked it to the border of Chambersburg. They say Erich Simpson was driving the car and was arrested.

Ben Ellinger says it was a tough lesson he learned the difficult way. He promised not to keep keys in the cars from now on.

Simpson has been charged with extortion and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Couple's car keys stolen, ransom note found

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