An area man accused of absconding with his ex-wife to North Carolina has been formally charged with kidnapping. The man allegedly took the woman from a West Knoxville area home in Tennessee. The kidnapping is reportedly considered a federal crime because it crossed state lines. The man could face a life sentence behind bars if he is convicted on the charges.
Authorities say the man has an extensive criminal history, including previous allegations of assault and theft. Further, he reportedly pleaded guilty to a harassment charge last summer after reportedly sending dozens of messages to the victim. In some of those messages, the man threatened to physically harm the woman.
Officers found the pair at a North Carolina rest stop on May 8. It appears that the man, age 53, brandished a weapon before abducting his ex-wife, age 51. He is accused of breaking into a building before threatening the woman with a gun and forcing her to come to North Carolina with him.
Experts say that the victim did have an active restraining order out against the defendant. Although it may not have prevented the defendant from allegedly abducting her, the order of protection could have significant consequences in the upcoming criminal proceeding. Legal experts explain that violating the existing order of protection increases the severity of subsequent charges against the offender. Assault, for example, is heightened to aggravated assault, a felony charge. Kidnapping and stalking situations can also be affected, which is why the man in this case is facing such a significant punishment.
Authorities say the man could also face a quarter-million dollar fine if he is convicted. It is not clear whether the man intends to enter a guilty plea. However, he has reportedly admitted to the crime.
Source: WATE ABC 6, "Man formally charged in kidnapping of West Knoxville woman" Samantha Manning, May. 08, 2014