Bail raised to $1 million for Amber Alert mom

SEATTLE -- King County prosecutors filed charges Thursday against Sandra Bennatts, whose bail was also raised to $1 million after grim details emerged about the abduction of her 6-year-old son.

Bennatts is charged with first-degree kidnapping with domestic violence, first-degree burglary with domestic violence and first-degree custodial interference in King County Superior Court.

The May 4 abduction occurred just months after she reportedly took off with her son to Tijuana, Mexico. Bennatts lost custody of her son several months ago due to mental issues and child neglect. The boy has since been legally cared for by the other victim in this case, Bennatts' mother.

Bennatts' bail was initially set at $250,000, but it was raised Thursday after additional details about the case were presented in court. Bennatts' family is "very afraid" of her and her crimes indicated "careful planning," according to a prosecutor's memo.

Court documents painted a grim picture of the alleged events of last Sunday:

The incident began Sunday night, when Bennatts broke into her mother's Auburn home in the 39700 block of 186th Place Southeast. She was lying in wait when her mother and son returned home about 8 p.m. from her son's haircut.

Bennatts' mother surmised an intruder had broken into her house, but before she could leave with the boy, Bennatts knocked her down a flight of stairs.

Bennatts then dragged her mother by her hair down to the basement, where supplies were prepared with which to bind her.

Bennatts reportedly hogtied her mother using rope and duct tape, binding her wrists and ankles. She suspended her mother in a storage room with her knees and shoulders in the air and only her midsection touching the ground. Bennatts gagged her mother with a rag.

All the while, Bennatts allegedly threatened to assault her with a knife and kill her, and kicked her after she was tied up, according to the prosecutor's memo.

The boy watched everything happen in the basement, screaming, crying and begging his mother not to hurt his "Nana." He reportedly brought his grandmother blankets and chocolate milk. His grandmother told him to go to the neighbor's house for safety, but he wouldn't leave.

Bennatts demanded her mother's PIN number - the mother gave her an incorrect one - and took camping gear from the house. She secured the doors in the basement to prevent her mother from escaping. Finally, she took her son and left in her mother's Acura SUV.

Bennatts' mother struggled to free herself throughout the night, cutting the bindings from her ankles by rubbing them against a saw on the ground, according to the affidavit. She then used a pry bar, with her hands still tied behind her back, to open the door to the storage room in which she was trapped. She ran to her neighbor's house before 6 a.m. Monday to get her hands freed and call 911.

An Amber Alert was issued for the 6-year-old boy and his grandmother's Acura on Monday morning.

Bennatts was seen by deputies headed east on Highway 2, the probable cause report says. Deputies attempted to stop her, but she accelerated and reached speeds of up to 100 mph, causing the deputies to call off the chase after about seven miles for safety reasons.

The Acura ran out of gas on Highway 2 near milepost 72, where the vehicle was facing east in the westbound lanes. Bennatts reportedly told witnesses she needed a ride shortly before she was arrested by Chelan County deputies. Bennatts' son was found safe in the front seat.

Detectives found Bennatts' mother's debit card, AARP card, camping gear, watches, jewelry, house keys, framed family photos, a laptop bag and several backpacks filled with clothing in the SUV.

Bennatts is scheduled to be arraigned May 20.