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Friday, 24 September 2010

Kidnapping charges filed against a fifth Missouri man accused in a bizarre abduction of a Newton businessman

12:40 |

Kidnapping charges filed against a fifth Missouri man accused in a bizarre abduction of a Newton businessman in January effectively ends the investigation, authorities said.

On Monday, Roy Slates, 56, an entrepreneur from Nevada, Mo., became the fifth person charged with kidnapping Newton pet supply store owner Jeffrey Muller on Jan. 8, Newton police announced today.

"Mr. Slates was our final target. I don’t anticipate any other arrests," said Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller.

Muller, 59, was kidnapped by Douglas Stangeland, Andrew Wadel and Lonnie Swarnes, who assaulted and zapped Muller with a stun gun and trundled him into their car in the parking lot of his shop, police said. The trio was targeting a different Jeffrey Muller, a money broker from New York, but grabbed the wrong man, authorities have said.

Muller was repeatedly threatened by his captors during a 1,200-mile ride from New Jersey to Lake Ozark, Mo., despite his repeated claims they had the wrong man, authorities said. When the aging car broke down, Muller freed himself and bolted. As captors tried to stop him, a store clerk noticed the struggle and called police, who quickly arrested the bumbling trio, police said.

"I give him a lot of credit for fighting back," Mueller said. "He’s not a man of large stature, but he has the heart of a lion."

The entire strange saga had been sparked by a beer-fueled conversation between Stangeland and Slates, a contractor whose attempt to build a championship-caliber golf course in southern Utah was derailed when Muller, the money broker, failed to produce investors, authorities said. Slates wanted to recover money he believed was owed to him from a past deal with the broker. Believing that a fourth man, William Barger, 49, was an outlaw biker, Slates paid him $10,000 to plan and commit Muller’s kidnapping with Stangeland, 47, Swarnes, 45, and Wadel, 22, police said.

The abduction sparked a wide-ranging, multi-agency probe in both states. Slates was charged in February in Missouri with concealing a felony and hindering prosecution for his roles in both the kidnapping and a November home invasion/shooting in Missouri, police have said.

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