OCEAN CITY — A Philadelphia man was arrested weekend after allegedly punching and choking a female victim and driving off in her vehicle with a child in the back.
Shortly after 11 a.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were dispatched to the 118th Street area for a possible kidnapping and domestic dispute. Ocean City Communications reported a suspect later identified as Jose Vargas III, 26, of Philadelphia, was driving a Kia Soul with Pennsylvania tags and he had the alleged victim’s juvenile son with him.
Officers met with the female victim who reportedly had an open cut on the left side of her and an open cut on her left hand that was actively bleeding. The victim told police she was staying at 112th Street with her 3-year-old son and that went to the beach with the juvenile and Vargas earlier.
The victim reportedly told police Vargas began acting violently toward her and that Vargas took her phone because he did not want her to call the police. The victim told police Vargas would not let her drive her own vehicle. Instead, she got into the vehicle with the juvenile in the child seat and Vargas behind the wheel. While the vehicle was traveling on Coastal Highway, the victim attempted to get her phone back from Vargas, but he punched her in the face with a closed fist.
Vargas then drove to a grocery store parking lot at 118th Street. The victim reportedly told him if he just gave her phone back, she would leave. Vargas then strangled the victim with his hands around her neck while pushing her up against the vehicle. The victim said she nearly lost consciousness, according to police reports.
Vargas then threw the victim’s phone on the ground, shattering the screen. Vargas then drove away in the victim’s vehicle with the boy still strapped in the car seat. The victim retrieved her broken phone and called police. The victim told police she and Vargas were just friends and were not in an intimate relationship, nor were they staying together in Ocean City.
About a half an hour later, an officer observed a vehicle matching the description in the area of 94th Street. The officer stopped the vehicle and identified the driver as Vargas. He was arrested and charged with assault for allegedly punching and choking the victim, malicious destruction of property for allegedly smashing her phone, theft for taking the phone and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.