Man held on $50,000 bail for allegedly kidnapping medical student in South End

A medical student was about to get out of her car in the South End Thursday when she was grabbed by her hair, pushed back into the vehicle, and forced to stay there by a Woburn man who drove the car through a Boston neighborhood, a prosecutor said this morning.

During the brief, terrifying ride, Joel Cartagena allegedly crashed the vehicle into two parked cars. The car came to rest after the second crash, allowing the 29-year-old victim to crawl out of the car, while Boston police and area residents captured Cartagena, Assistant District Attorney Eric Anderson said.

Cartagena, 36, pleaded not guilty in Boston Municipal Court today to kidnapping and other charges stemming from the incident, which began around 3:20 p.m. on Waltham Street.Authorities allege that Cartagena also stole two credit cards earlier Thursday, before the kidnapping.

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Judge Mark Summerville set Cartagena’s bail at $50,000 cash. Cartagena was also ordered held for violating conditions of bail set in a previous larceny case. His next court date is Feb. 11.

Cartagena had previously served two years behind bars for an assault and battery conviction, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.

In court, Anderson said the woman was leaning toward the passenger side of her car when a man identified as Cartagena “grabbed her by the hair and forcibly threw her to the passenger side” of the car.

Cartagena allegedly jumped behind the wheel, drove, and crashed a few blocks away on West Dedham Street, where civilians and Boston police combined to capture the suspect and to help the woman who stumbled out of the car.

“He stole my car,” the woman told witnesses, Anderson said. “He tried to mug me.”

A police officer responding to the scene said Cartagena told him, “I was in a car accident, got scared and ran,” according to a police report filed in the case.

His defense attorney told Summerville that Cartagena lives in Woburn with his girlfriend and works for both a construction company and a restaurant. The attorney said Cartegna has been receiving methadone for the past year and has not had a drug-related issue during that time.