Group Looking for a Christmas Tree Discovers Half-Naked Kidnap Victim in the Woods: Cops

Fred Sanderson is wanted by police for allegedly kidnapping woman, abandoning her half-naked.
Fred Sanderson, 44, is wanted by police on charges of kidnapping and assault. Redding, Calif., Police Department

A group searching for a Christmas tree stumbled upon a partially clothed kidnapping victim who'd been abandoned in a Northern California forest, police said.

The 25-year-old woman was wearing only a pair of shorts and had taken shelter in a burned-out tree, where she drank from a mud puddle, according to the Redding Police Department. 

One suspect in her abduction is in custody, while another remains at large.

Johanna Knighten, 33, was being held on $500,000 bail at Shasta County Jail, charged with kidnapping, attempted murder and conspiracy, according to online records. Police are searching for 44-year-old Fred Sanderson.

The victim, who lives in Redding, was not identified. She said the suspects were acquaintances who forced her into Knighten's van on Sunday. Sanderson accused her of stealing drugs, she told police.

Sanderson physically assaulted her, and then the pair made her strip down to a pair of shorts and dumped her about six miles from Highway 44.

The woman had no idea where she was, had no means of communication and couldn't find anyone to help her, police. She survived extreme cold, rain and snow by holing up in the dead tree.

She was found by the Christmas tree shoppers on Monday. Knighten was arrested Tuesday, after police spotted her van in downtown Redding, authorities said. 

Sanderson is wanted on kidnapping, assault and attempted murder charges, police said.

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