Two men who were hired by Louisiana millionaire Lawrence Michael Handley to kidnap his estranged wife drowned while trying to evade police.
Handley pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of second-degree kidnapping and one count of attempted second-degree kidnapping after authorities said he orchestrated the abduction of his estranged wife, according to a report by USA Today.
The plot went awry when Handley’s two hired kidnappers, Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Haynes, ended up on a dead-end road, got their van struck in a swampy area, and jumped into the Intracoastal Canal near Baton Rouge, where they drowned, trying to escape police.
The 53-year-old millionaire now faces up to 35 years. Officials said Handley hired kidnappers in August 2017 to abduct his estranged wife from their home in Lafayette, Louisiana.
A few months before hiring the kidnappers, Handley filed for divorce, alleging that his wife attacked or threatened him, and hired a hitman to kill him.
Meanwhile, Handley’s wife alleged that her husband tried to track her phone, access her email, and install spyware on her computer. Handley also allegedly sent his wife threatening texts before the abduction.
Multiple restraining orders were also filed in 2017, according to court records.
On August 6, 2017, Handley’s hired kidnappers — both 27 years old — who went to the couples’ home, and forced their way inside with handguns.
According to a court document, “the kidnappers handcuffed [Handley’s wife] placed a bag over her head and forcibly removed her from the home,” and then proceeded to threaten, torture, and abuse her while driving toward Baton Rouge.
But then, a major traffic jam incentivized Bracey and Haynes to drive on the shoulder of the road in an attempt to avoid traffic, causing their vehicle to be spotted be an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.
“The deputy followed the van until it reached a highway. Instead of turning left, where they could have taken a number of routes, the two men turned right onto a dead-end road,” reports USA Today.
The kidnappers’ van got stuck in a swampy area, so they fled into the nearby woods, and jumped into the canal, where their bodies were found less than a day later.
A gun — which authorities believe belonged to one of the kidnappers — was also reportedly found inside a nearby pipe. Handley’s wife was also found by deputies in the back of the van.
Five days later, Handley — who tried to charter a plane — was caught by police at a hotel.
According to the district attorney’s office, Lafayette Police Department Detective Jared Istre found video of Handley planning his wife’s abduction, as well as checklists Handley made.
Handley reportedly found success early in the technology industry — helping launch companies that sold vitamins, energy supplements, and calcium creams — and became a millionaire by the age of 30.