NEW PORT RICHEY – A corner of the world shut down for Christina Nardi last Friday.
Text messages came from her phone to her roommate, her ex-husband, even her children, saying she had been kidnapped and demanded a ransom. Some messages, from the alleged abductor, taunted she was dead. Deputies from Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas stopped what they were doing to search for Nardi. A helicopter pilot, dogs, detectives, forensics, road patrol, dispatchers — all worked furiously to find the 34-year-old house cleaner and mother, whom they thought might be trapped in a trunk, about to die.
Cars were stopped and searched. Ex-boyfriends found and questioned. About 2,400 home phones rang with a recorded message, asking for the public's help to find her.
And she was found, alive, unharmed, in Starkey Wilderness Park that evening. Deputies carried her small body to an ambulance. She was treated, released — and on Thursday, arrested.
She made it all up, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
"We spent thousands of dollars looking for her,'' said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll, "and it ended up being a wild goose chase.''
Nardi admits that she lied, according to her arrest report. When she was found, curled on her side near a dead tree in the park, she said she had been kidnapped from a 7-Eleven, raped, beaten and dragged into the woods. She said she woke up to the sound of the helicopter circling overhead, trying to find her.
The text messages had been deleted from her phone.
The first message was sent to Jeff Kendrick, 41, who lives with Nardi and two of her children at 3239 Salisbury Drive in Holiday.
It was sent at 2:44 p.m.: "I got 1 minute, gun to my head, I'm hurt and 2500 ransom, 52 don't know them, answer asap"
Other messages said:
"I'm being held hostage"
"Took all my money, beat and drugged me on heroin help"
"She's dead now, bye bye"
When Kendrick wrote "Where are you?" the response from Nardi's phone was: "watching you"
She said she was on Tampa Road, which drew deputies from Pinellas and Hillsborough into the search. Nearly 40 Pasco deputies were already taken off their normal duties to find Nardi.
Texts told Kendrick to bring the ransom to a Shell station.
Nardi's sons – ages 16 and 13 – also received the "she's dead now, bye bye" messages. Her 13-year-old also got this text:
"I got her and you wont ever see her again."
Nardi's cell phone company said the texts were coming from Starkey Park. Her minivan was found, her scent traced by dogs, her body spotted from the air. Although she said she had been beaten, she only had minor scratches and her clothes were not dirty, the report states.
She wouldn't allow her blood to be drawn at the hospital to check for drugs, according to authorities. The investigation revealed that the first text went out at 2:44 p.m. But she spoke to her 13-year-old son on the phone at 3:18 p.m. and all sounded normal, the report states. She said she was coming home to take him and his brother swimming.
When questioned, Nardi changed her story, according to reports. She said she was with a drug dealer who demanded $500 and she only had $250. She said the drug dealer threatened her with a gun and forced her to send those text messages. She would not give information about the drug dealer because "she was afraid of him."
Her ex-husband, Matthew Milson, 38, said he was suspicious of her kidnapping from the start.
"So, this guy gave her back her keys and her phone and he beamed back up to his spaceship?" Milson said.
Although this is Nardi's first arrest in Florida, she has battled a drug problem, according to statements in the report.
Nardi is charged with making a false report to law enforcement and alleging a crime, which is a misdemeanor. She was released Thursday night on $250 bail.
Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this story.