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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

LaSalle Street Kidnapper found guilty in Federal Court

Detroit man found guilty of kidnapping two Indianapolis children

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler, announced guilty verdicts against a Detroit, Michigan man, for kidnapping two Indianapolis children from their LaSalle Street home in March of 2015.  An Indianapolis jury found John Thomas a/k/a Jay, 39, guilty of two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping after a six-day trial before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard L. Young.

“I want to commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for their immediate reaction to this kidnapping,” said Minkler. “As a result of their non-stop efforts, this case was solved in less than 48 hours, the victims were rescued and the defendants arrested.  Law enforcement has sent a strong message; when children are involved, we will send the cavalry.”

Testimony in court indicated, Thomas was a drug dealer from Detroit.  On February 28, 2015, Thomas’s former girlfriend Whitney Blackwell took a large quantity of narcotics and narcotic proceeds and traveled to Indianapolis with her minor child.  Between February 28, 2015, and March 2, 2015, Thomas and members of his conspiracy traveled to Indianapolis in search of Blackwell.

On March 2, 2015, Thomas and other members of the conspiracy conducted a home invasion on LaSalle Street in Indianapolis and kidnapped Blackwell’s minor siblings, holding them for ransom.  They used a blindfold, towel and a hood to prevent one victim from identifying members of the conspiracy and used zip-ties to prevent his escape. They later cut the fingers of one of the children to compel him to reveal the location of Blackwell, the narcotics and narcotic proceeds taken from Thomas.  Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement in Indianapolis and Detroit, both victims were returned safely.

FBI Special Agent in Charge, W. Jay Abbott said, “The swift and safe return of the victims and apprehension of the subjects was the result of the cooperative efforts of Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies.”

Five other co-conspirators have pleaded guilty in federal court and are awaiting sentencing:

Alaa Al-Salehi, a/k/a Big Boi, 24

April Sandell, 27

Bernando Reeves, a/k/a C-Note, 21

Mohammed Karkash a/k/a MJ, 23

Ali Hussain Ashore, 27

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Tiffany J. McCormick and Jeffrey D. Preston, who prosecuted this case for the government, Thomas and the other kidnappers face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison.  The United States Attorney’s Office will request a sentence of life for Mr. Thomas.  Parole has been abolished in the federal system.  Thomas will be sentenced on December 8, 2016.

Updated September 27, 2016