New charges in mistaken ID abduction - KMOV.com

New charges in mistaken ID abduction

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Two of the suspects in the kidnapping of the wrong New Jersey man were charged Saturday with breaking into a Missouri home and questioning the homeowner about the apparent target of the abduction.

Vernon County, Mo., Sheriff Ron Peckman said Douglas Stangeland, 46, of Nevada, Mo., and Andrew Wadel, 21, of Rich Hill, are charged with burglary and kidnapping in a home invasion in western Missouri in November that allegedly precipitated the Jan. 8 abduction of 59-year-old pet store owner Jeffrey Muller outside his Newton, N.J., store.

The self-professed head of a motorcycle gang, William Barger, was charged earlier in the week with ordering the home invasion. Investigators said in court documents that Stangeland, Wadel and a third man -- Lonnie Swarnes, 44, of Rich Hill -- were "pledges" to the Hell's Angels chapter Barger claimed to be starting and that he told them to break into a man's home in November.

Authorities say that during the home invasion, the homeowner was shot in the hand, restrained and questioned about "anyone by the name of Muller." Police believe the man who eventually was kidnapped was the wrong Muller.

Authorities also say they have not found any evidence that Barger is connected to the Hell's Angels or that he was the son of the club's founder, Sonny Barger, as he had claimed in an interview with law enforcement officers.

Sonny Barger's attorney and business manager, Fritz Clapp, said in a telephone interview Friday that his client has no children and described William Barger as "an outrageous character making outrageous claims."

After being driven nearly 1,200 miles, the pet store owner was rescued in the mid-Missouri town of Lake Ozark when his captors had car trouble and a convenience store clerk saw him attempt to escape, authorities said.

Prosecutors in New Jersey's Sussex County have charged Stangeland, Wadel and Swarnes with first-degree kidnapping.

Stangeland and Wadel were being held without bond in Miller County, Mo., where the rescue occurred. Swarnes already has been extradited to New Jersey.

Stangeland and Wadel don't yet have attorneys. The attorney for Swarnes, David Nufrio, said Friday that he was still investigating the case.

Peckman, the Vernon County sheriff, said charges against Swarnes in the home invasion were pending.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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