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Alleged Spokane kidnapping victim recants

Man now says he left Iowa willingly, lied to police

The injured man who initially told police he was kidnapped from a Sioux City, Iowa, home and led on a harrowing road trip to Spokane last week now says he lied and had returned willingly.

Jason Hanson recanted earlier this week after police arrested George Rosenbaum on kidnapping, assault and robbery charges stemming from the 1,300-mile journey.

Hanson initially told investigators that Rosenbaum had showed up at a friend’s house in the Iowa city where he was staying, threatening to burn the residence if Hanson did not return to Spokane with him. Hanson said he’d moved to Sioux City fearing retaliation from Rosenbaum, who wanted Hanson to testify on his behalf at an upcoming trial on an unrelated assault charge.

But in court earlier this week, Hanson changed his story and said he’d agreed to come back to Spokane and used methamphetamine prior to Rosenbaum’s arrival in Sioux City. He also denied that he was being held against his will during the almost-1,300 mile journey.

“Had I wanted to leave, I could have at any time,” Hanson said.

That account clashes with the retelling he offered investigators Friday when contacted at a Spokane Valley supermarket. Hanson then said Rosenbaum became enraged, struck him in the forehead with a pistol and drove him to a secluded spot in Montana where he threatened to kill and bury him.

In court, Hanson said the cut on his head was due to a sledding accident. The city had about an inch of snow last week, according to weather reports.

Hanson also changed his story about how he’d come to arrive at the store. Originally he’d told police he’d fled from Rosenbaum’s Ford Focus when he stopped at a gas station to buy cigarettes. He said Tuesday he’d spent the night in a car at Rosenbaum’s house, then walked to the nearby store after “stewing” about whether he should receive payment for his testimony in the assault case.

Hanson also said police influenced his statements.

“They weren’t believing me,” Hanson said. “I had to keep changing my story because they knew I was lying.”

Rosenbaum was arrested Wednesday on an eluding police charge, according to jail records. Spokane Police said Rosenbaum drove off when they attempted to arrest him at his home in southeast Spokane on Friday afternoon. He is scheduled to make another court appearance as early as this afternoon.

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

new  James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.