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Millionaire's Plot to Kidnap Wife Ends With 2 Drownings

Pair of men hired to kidnap woman jumped into canal during police chase
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2021 8:25 AM CDT
Updated Aug 1, 2021 12:30 PM CDT
There Was Snag After Snag in Millionaire's Plot of Kidnap Wife
Lawrence Michael Handley   (Lafayette Parish Sheriff)

(Newser) – A Louisiana millionaire is facing up to 35 years in prison after plotting to kidnap his estranged wife at gunpoint. Lawrence Handley's plan did not go at all as he expected. After the two men he hired to kidnap his wife from the couples' south Lafayette home handcuffed her, put a bag over her head, and forced her into the back of a van on Aug. 6, 2017, they hit the road only to meet a massive traffic jam, reports the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. It was while driving on the shoulder of the road that they were spotted by an off-duty sheriff's deputy, who followed the van until it reached a highway. Had the driver turned left, the van might've escaped along any number of routes. But he turned right, onto a dead-end road, and the vehicle soon became stuck in swamp. Pursued by police, Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Haynes, both 27, jumped into a canal and drowned.

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Arrested days later at a motel, Handley—allegedly caught discussing the plot on video—was charged with crimes including conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, which meant a possible life sentence. Found mentally competent to stand trial after initially pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, the 53-year-old pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of second-degree kidnapping and one count of attempted second-degree kidnapping, and will face up to 35 years in prison at a later sentencing. "It's a fair result," defense attorney Kevin Stockstill says, per the Advertiser, noting he and his client hadn't wanted victims to relive the events at trial. A friend and teen relative of the wife were also corralled by kidnappers at the home, per the Acadiana Advocate. Prosecutor Donald Knecht said the victims were "not just satisfied but glad" at the outcome. (Read more kidnapping stories.)

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