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Press Release

Fayetteville Woman Sentenced to 90 Months for Kidnapping Offense

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Fayetteville woman was sentenced today to 90 months in prison for her role in a December 2018 kidnapping conspiracy. On April 8, 2021, Merianda Gray pled guilty to the charge.  She was also ordered to serve 5 years of supervised release and to pay $2,000.00 in restitution.

According to court documents, in December 2018, Gray and two co-defendants, Yomere Juan Busbee and James Calvin McEachern, Jr., held three adult victims, and a two-year-old child in a hotel room against their will for several hours after Busbee, a violent pimp and drug dealer, believed he was missing several hundred dollars and accused the victims of stealing it. During the incident Busbee, McEachern, and Gray threatened the victims and did not allow them to leave. Several of the victims were physically and sexually assaulted and tased. Eventually, one of the victims was able to get a message to a family member who called authorities. Busbee and McEachern fled after learning authorities were on the way, and three of the victims were able to escape. Officers with Fayetteville Police Department were able to retrieve the final victim from the room without incident. Co-defendant McEachern previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and is awaiting sentencing. Co-defendant Busbee was charged with five counts: conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, including of a minor, conspiracy to distribute or possess with the intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base (crack), possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and felon in possession of a firearm. In September 2022, a jury found Busbee guilty of all counts after a three-day trial, and sentencing is pending.

Michael Easley, Jr. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fayetteville Police Department led the investigation. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Blondel and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Stephany prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:20-CR-00393-M.

Updated October 21, 2022

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Project Safe Neighborhoods