ILWACO — A man arrested on May 18 now faces a federal kidnapping charge for allegedly abducting his ex-girlfriend and transporting her from her home in Ilwaco to Rainier, Oregon.
James Donald Cooley, 59, has been charged by criminal complaint with one count of kidnapping, according to a June 19 press release from U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.
Immediately following Cooley’s arrest, Columbia County authorities made a variety of state criminal charges, including attempted felony assault, unlawful use of a weapon, violation of a restraining order, stalking and menacing, Pamplin News Group reported.
The case was transferred to federal court since the victim was allegedly kidnapped in one state and transported to another.
According to federal court documents, in the early morning hours of May 18, Cooley is alleged to have traveled from his home in Rainier to his ex-girlfriend’s home in Ilwaco without notice or invitation. The victim’s name is not being reported at this time.
He parked his vehicle on the side of U.S. Highway 101 near her home. Cooley approached his ex-girlfriend and a confrontation ensued. He grabbed her by her arms, tied her hands together with zip ties, and began pulling her toward the highway, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges. Cooley dragged his ex-girlfriend a couple hundred feet to his vehicle, put a knife to her throat, shoved her into the backseat, and began driving back to Rainier, the court documents state.
When Cooley arrived at his residence, his sister, who also lives in Rainier, spotted Cooley’s ex-girlfriend at his residence. Cooley’s sister confronted them and the ex-girlfriend told her that Cooley was going to kill her, according to the court documents. Cooley’s sister contacted the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and reported the incident. Sheriff deputies responded and later arrested Cooley.
Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley told Pamplin News Group that the victim was not hospitalized.
Cooley made his initial appearance in federal court June 19 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman. He was ordered detained pending further proceedings. He was initially confined in the Columbia County Jail, with bail set at $185,000.
The case was investigated by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Gregory R. Nyhus, assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Court records show a long history of criminal charges against Cooley, dating back to the 1980s. Most recently, Cooley was charged in two separate domestic violence incidents — in Columbia County in 2017 and Multnomah County in 2018 — but charges were dismissed both times, Pamplin reported.
Pixley said the marks on Cooley’s face, visible in the booking photo, were there when deputies first made contact with Cooley.
“It is unclear at this point how he received them,” Pixley told Pamplin in May.