Lawrence Handley, 53, a concern enforcement from Lafayette, La., pleaded blameworthy this week to 3 transgression charges aft a crippled to kidnap his estranged woman went severely awry.
July 30, 2021, 7:15 a.m. ET
Schanda Handley was astatine location with her girl and a neighbour erstwhile 2 men showed up astatine the door, dressed successful what looked similar bluish uniforms from an appliance store.
They had a carpet steamer and asked Ms. Handley if they could show it for her. When she said no, the men forced their mode into her location astatine gunpoint, enactment a hood implicit her caput and handcuffed her and her neighbor, she said.
Then they pushed Ms. Handley into a van and drove off, leaving Ms. Handley’s 14-year-old girl and the neighbour behind.
The kidnappers had been hired by Ms. Handley’s estranged husband, Lawrence Michael Handley, who was readying to person Ms. Handley driven to his campy adjacent Woodville, Miss., from her location successful Lafayette, La., prosecutors said. What helium planned to bash aft that was not clear, the authorities said.
But arsenic the men drove eastbound connected Interstate 10 connected Aug. 6, 2017, with Ms. Handley handcuffed successful the back, sheriff’s deputies noticed the van was swerving and tried to halt it, prosecutors said.
The men, Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Haynes, drove disconnected the interstate, turned down a dead-end gravel road, and were penned successful by the police, prosecutors said. Both men tried to flight by swimming done a canal, prosecutors said. They drowned.
On Monday, astir 4 years later, Mr. Handley, 53, pleaded blameworthy to 2 counts of second-degree kidnapping and 1 number of attempted second-degree kidnapping, prosecutors said. He faces 15 to 35 years successful prison. A sentencing day has not been set.
Under a plea deal, Mr. Handley avoided a complaint of aggravated kidnapping, which carries a mandatory condemnation of beingness successful prison, prosecutors said.
Ms. Handley, 50, said successful an interrogation connected Thursday that it was “really unfortunate” that Mr. Handley — present her ex-husband — would not look the anticipation of beingness successful prison.
“My anticipation is erstwhile he’s sentenced, he’s fixed the 35 years,” she said. “I deliberation my life, my freedom, ends erstwhile helium gets out.”
A erstwhile palmy businessman, Mr. Handley had tally bundle and vitamin businesses and had been the main enforcement of a bid of cause attraction centers that sold successful 2015 successful a woody worthy astir $21 million, Ms. Handley said.
He subjected Ms. Handley to hundreds of threats, erstwhile telling her “Armageddon is coming,” arsenic they went done a divorce, she said. For 2 months, she said, she had live-in information astatine her house.
“I knew helium was coming to get me,” she said.
Mr. Handley’s lawyer, Kevin Stockstill, said successful an interrogation that his lawsuit had been utilizing methamphetamine and cocaine for days erstwhile helium hatched the program to person his woman kidnapped. He said that Mr. Handley had planned to “come successful arsenic a hero” and rescue Ms. Handley successful an effort to “win her back.”
“It was surely not logical thinking, but erstwhile you’re doing a batch of meth and cocaine, I conjecture it seemed rational to him,” Mr. Stockstill said. “It turned retired to beryllium a unspeakable decision.”
Detective Jared Istre of the Lafayette Police Department, who investigated the case, recovered video of Mr. Handley readying the kidnapping arsenic good arsenic checklists that helium had made and grounds showing that helium rented the van and bought the handcuffs utilized by the 2 kidnappers, prosecutors said.
“The plea resolves the lawsuit without the victims having to relive their ordeal,” Alan Haney, a authoritative with Louisiana’s 15th Judicial District, said successful a statement, “and the authorities looks guardant to presenting further grounds astatine the sentencing hearing.”
Mr. Stockstill said the lawsuit presented a “tough acceptable of facts” for his client, and helium didn’t privation to hazard a beingness condemnation for Mr. Handley.
“He’s helped virtually thousands of radical with addiction,” Mr. Stockstill said. “He needs to judge punishment. But helium surely deserves different changeable astatine having immoderate life.”
Ms. Handley said it was an off-duty constabulary serviceman who had initially spotted the kidnappers’ van speeding connected the enarthrosis of the interstate and had decided to travel it, believing it mightiness beryllium stolen. She said she had spoken to him later.
“He didn’t cognize thing astir the kidnapping,” she said, “and helium had a infinitesimal determination wherever helium wasn’t definite helium was going to prosecute the van.”
If the constabulary hadn’t stopped the van, Ms. Handley said, she wasn’t definite what mightiness person happened erstwhile she reached her husband’s campy successful Mississippi.
“His behaviour was precise erratic,” she said, adding that she believed helium mightiness person been experiencing drug-induced psychosis. “He had mislaid his mind, similar helium was determined that we were going to beryllium together.”