THS grad’s kidnapping ordeal recounted in new book

Scot-free: Safe in Georgia now available online

By Sarah Greil

TOMAHAWK – What started out as an evening trip on a holiday weekend quickly turned into a life-or-death situation for one 1970 Tomahawk High School graduate.

While his wife Deb was in Tomahawk visiting family for the bicentennial 4th of July weekend, Scott Gaedtke was traveling from his home in Titusville, Fla., to Daytona. He stopped to help a stranded traveler who had steam pouring from his car’s hood. What he didn’t realize was that the man was not alone, and that he and the other two men with him were dangerous murderers.

Shortly after stopping to help, Scott found himself in a situation with a gun to his chest, wondering if these were his last moments on earth. The criminals seized his car and decided to take Scott with them. Scott’s quick thinking and witty tongue not only talked the criminals out of killing him, but talked them out of armed robbery of a convenience store and attacking a couple in their car.

Driving up the interstate, the car was eventually stopped by police in Georgia for suspected drunk driving as they weaved down the road. While searching the vehicle, the officer was unalarmed by the unloaded shotgun in the back seat, since this was legal in Georgia.

Upon further searching, they arrested the driver for having Florida beer that didn’t have a Georgia stamp on it. He’d be charged with interstate trafficking of alcohol without a license, a federal crime.

The driver rode to the station with the officer, and the others followed in Scott’s car. While the driver was being booked, Scott and the others were told to go wait outside.

As they headed out the door, Scott suddenly jumped aside and yelled, “Grab them! They have knives!” (They hadn’t been searched.) The criminals were apprehended, and Scott explained how he had been kidnapped and wasn’t one of them.

The next day, the FBI spent about two hours taking Scott’s testimony. He never did have to go to court. The suspects pleaded guilty and were given multiple life sentences.

Scott said he did a lot of praying during the ordeal. He said God gave him the right things to say at the right time to make the criminals laugh and avoid the situation getting worse. The rest of his life, he’s been trying to live up to some of the promises he made to God that night.

Scott believes that if a family had stopped, they would have been killed in order to take their car. He believes that he was there so that no one else would be killed.  

“It was a miracle the way the whole thing came out,” Scott reminisced. “I should have been dead. God got me through that. I have no doubt about that.”

In 2005, during a fall grouse hunting trip in northern Wisconsin, Scott shared his story with several classmates. This past January, his friend John McKinley decided his experience should be written down and spent the winter writing a book entitled Scot-free: Safe in Georgia. Several months later, the book was published and is available on Amazon.

Scott Gaedtke’s wife, Deb, created the book’s cover.

John changed a few names and took some liberties with writing back-stories for the criminals, but the events of the kidnapping are true to Scott’s memories.

Through his ordeal, Scott would like people to know that there’s a bigger purpose in life.

“You may not see it right out front,” he said, “but things happen in life for a reason. Keep your faith and you’ll find out in the long run what it was. Some of those things we won’t know until we finally get to heaven. Until then, you’ll always have the comfort of knowing it’s all part of a plan.”

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