Saturday, January 23, 2010

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part XLVII): Kidnapping plot foiled

The two most recent issues of the Newton County Times report on a plot by a jailed defendant and his family to kidnap the county sheriff''s son and/or to escape from custody. Other recent posts have mentioned the charges against David Middleton, most recently and notably for his alleged involvement in methamphetamine production. These more recent stories indicate that Middleton engaged his brother and some other family members to assist him in attempting to escape.

The January 7, 2010 headline is, "Plot to kidnap sheriff's son thwarted." It's lede is: "A 51-year-old man is being held in custody under $1 million bond for allegedly conspiring to help his brother escape from jail and attempting to kidnap Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape's son." Ricky Middleton, the brother of David Middleton, is that man. David Middleton was being held in the Benton County jail awaiting prosecution on federal drug charges. Authorities monitoring his phone calls, which is apparently standard practice, discovered the plot. Meanwhile, Sheriff Slape moved his family to a "safe house."

The next week's paper, dated January 14, 2010, reports in more detail on the alleged plot, under a headline reporting Ricky Middleton's not guilty plea. According to the story, following his November arrest on drug charges, David Middleton was initially held in the Boone County Jail. After he complained of chest pains, he was taken to the North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, where he allegedly tried to escape. Following a federal indictment based on events that led to the November arrest, Middleton was moved to the Benton County jail. The recorded phone conversations revealed Middleton asking his wife, adult daughter and brother to "line up 15 or 20 people to try and free him from custody while going to or coming from a hearing in Fort Smith." At one point, the daughter, Tracy Waits, is quoted as saying, "We'll be there, I'm not going to let you down, I promise." David Middleton responds at one point, "Ricky knows, he knows all about it. You have one chance and that's it."

Following his arrest, Ricky Middleton also admitted that he and his brother had discussed "finding out about Slape's children and following the school bus, as well as who would assist" in a plan to kidnap one of the Sheriff's children.

In other crime-related stories, the January 14, 2010, of the paper reports:
  • "Third suspect named in plot" reports on the search for David Middleton's daughter, Tracy Waits, also of Newton County. It notes that she was last traced by use of her food stamp card to a grocery store in Harrison.
  • "Breedlove's bond remains at $250,000" reports that the woman accused of killing her male intimate partner in early December, 2009, remains held on the same bond as initially set, but that any release is further conditioned on the woman, Kerry Breedlove, going directly into drug rehabilitation. However, evidence of drug use--at least as reported in the story--was scant and appeared to be based on hearsay evidence. Of particular interest in relation to lack of anonymity was testimony by a sheriff's office investigator that he knew the defendant's family and he didn't think they would be able to "control" her. The investigator noted that while the defendant's mother is a secretary to State Senator Randy Laverty--apparently indicating that she is an upstanding citizen--Breedlove's two children are supposed to be in the custody of her mother, but one, a 16-year-old, was living with Breedlove at the time of the shooting and, in fact, her present was the cause of the dispute between Breedlove and the man she allegedly shot and killed. The investigator said that "if the mother couldn't control a 16-year-old girl, she wouldn't be able to control a 35-year-old woman."
  • "Daryl Kolb arrested on meth charge" is a report of a 41-year-old man (incidentally, one with whom I went to high school) being arrested following a four-month investigation into his delivery of methamphetamine. His 1998 Camaro, "which was used in the trafficking of narcotics," was seized. Bond has been set at $100,000.

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