Wildwood kidnapping suspect fired shots, sent photos during 20-hour standoff in Marion County: affidavit

James Savage, a 54-year-old man accused of kidnapping his girlfriend on Friday, was detained on Saturday after a 20-hour-long standoff with law enforcement in Marion County

Here's a look at what we know so far, and some new details from an arrest affidavit obtained by FOX 35 that sheds light on what happened leading up to Savage's arrest. 

James Savage accused of kidnapping girlfriend Marivel Dunn

Marivel Dunn, 60, was kidnapped from a home in Wildwood on the night of March 14, according to Wildwood police. Her boyfriend, James Savage, is accused of forcefully taking her from the home. He allegedly punched and pulled Dunn by her hair before slamming her on the ground and forcing her into his car, a 2018 black Mercedes-Benz S series. 

That vehicle fled the area before law enforcement arrived. Hours later, the car was found and neither Savage nor Dunn were found with it. Police later released an update, saying the two could be in Dunn's vehicle instead – a 2020 black BMW 330i. 

At the time of the incident, police shared details about Dunn and Savage's relationship, including their ties to Sumter, Marion and Palm Beach counties. 

Marivel Dunn found safe 3 hours later

Wildwood police shared an update that Marivel Dunn had been found safe about three hours after they first reported her missing. 

According to an arrest affidavit from the Marion County Sheriff's Office obtained by FOX 35 on March 19, Dunn was found at a house on Southeast Belhaven Loop, the area where James Savage would ultimately barricade himself inside a house. It remains unclear if Dunn was found at the same house Savage was holed up in, due to the house numbers being redacted in the document. 

Deputies in the area who arrived to canvass the neighborhood said Dunn exited the house and was escorted off the scene to be interviewed and receive medical attention. 

No other details about Dunn have been released at this time. 

Deputies locate James Savage, but were ‘working’ on apprehending him

In the update from Wildwood police that Marivel Dunn had been found safe, they added that they were "working on apprehending" James Savage. They said he was located by an out-of-county law enforcement agency, which was later revealed to be the Marion County Sheriff's Office. 

James Savage holes himself up in Marion County home

The arrest affidavit shed some light on some new details about the standoff between James Savage and law enforcement. 

Savage holed himself up at a home on Southeast 174th Belhaven Loop, which belonged to a "friend" of his, the affidavit said. When deputies arrived there to gather information from this "friend," she turned deputies away. When deputies returned to follow up on Savage's car found nearby, she continued to be uncooperative, deputies said. 

The woman told deputies she had "recently spoken" to and had seen Savage, but "would not elaborate." 

It wasn't until Marivel Dunn exited a home on Southeast Belhaven Loop that the woman told deputies Savage was inside her house, the affidavit said. 

No other details were released about Savage's relationship with the woman. 

What happened inside the house during the 20-hour standoff?

The standoff started Friday afternoon and ended on Saturday morning. 

Deputies were able to make phone contact with James Savage inside the home, according to the affidavit. 

Around 3 p.m. on that Friday, a person who identified himself as Savage called the FOX 35 newsroom. During the several phone calls, one of which lasted over 20 minutes, it was hard to follow Savage at times. Savage discussed a variety of topics. FOX 35 immediately contacted law enforcement.

The affidavit also revealed that Savage sent a photo of himself holding a handgun to his head to a Marion County detective. It remains unclear how Savage sent the photo.

Additionally, Savage allegedly fired one shot at deputies who were administering gas rounds into the home during the standoff, the affidavit said. There was a hole in the house where Savage fired from, and a hole in the neighbor's house where the bullet hit. 

The Marion County Sheriff's Office deployed its ICOR Robot to assist with Savage's "peaceful apprehension," the affidavit added. After Savage was detained the robot was recovered, deputies discovered Savage had shot the robot, making it inoperable. This caused over $2,000 in damage. 

It should be noted that Savage was alone in the house at the time, deputies said. 

How long was the standoff?

The Wildwood Police Department said that at around 1 p.m. on Friday, they located James Savage and were "working on apprehending" him. At around 10:30 a.m. the next day, he was detained, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office. 

Kidnapping suspect James Savage surrendered peacefully to law enforcement after a standoff that lasted nearly 20 hours. (Photo: Sally Petruzzello)

That's a standoff of about 20 hours. 

Savage surrendered peacefully. 

James Savage detained, put in back of patrol car: VIDEO

After James Savage was detained following the nearly 20-hour standoff, he was put into the back of a patrol car. 

The Marion County Sheriff's Office shared this video footage with FOX 35, which shows Savage sitting in the backseat breathing heavily. For the majority of the 5-minute video, Savage remained silent. Toward the end of the video, however, Savage mentioned something about wanting to speak to reporters. 

You can watch this video in the player below:

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said bodycam footage of Savage surrendering is not available. According to a spokesperson, the body-worn cameras on deputies and SWAT officers were dead by the time the standoff was over. 

What is James Savage charged with?

James Savage was arrested on a warrant stemming from domestic battery and kidnapping charges that occurred in the Wildwood Police Department's jurisdiction. Savage was also arrested on Marion County charges accumulated throughout the standoff. 

Here's a look at all the charges:

  • Domestic battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal mischief (two counts)
  • Violating domestic violence injunction
  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • Shooting within an occupied dwelling
  • Resisting with violence
  • Aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer (two counts)

Savage is currently being held in the Marion County Jail without bond. 

James Savage remains in custody at the Marion County Jail. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

James Savage found in violation of restraining order, more criminal history revealed 

Deputies located James Savage's Mercedes-Benz at The Nancy Lopez Legacy Golf and Country Club at 17145 Villages Buena Vista Blvd., according to the arrest affidavit. This address is less than a mile away from the home of a woman who Savage is prohibited from being in contact with. 

In August 2023, a restraining order for stalking was issued against Savage for a year, according to the arrest affidavit. The injunction was for domestic stalking, since Savage and the woman lived together as an intimate couple for several years. 

Savage was ordered not to have contact with the woman, nor was he allowed to be within 1 mile of her home. The country club where his car was found and the home he eventually barricaded himself inside were both less than a mile away from her home. 

The affidavit revealed Savage's criminal history too. 

Savage was convicted of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult and organized fraud (less than $20,000) in St. Lucie County in December 2020. 

What's next?

James Savage is scheduled to appear in Marion County court on April 16.