Kentucky Man Charged with Carjacking, Victim Forced to Travel Across State Before Escaping
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Danville, Ken., man who carjacked a vehicle in Kansas City, Mo., and forced its owner to accompany him as he drove across the state has been arrested and charged in federal court.
Robert C. Caldwell, 25, of Danville, was charged in a criminal complaint that was filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. Caldwell was arrested in Kentucky on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, following a pursuit by officers with the Kentucky State Police and the Lincoln County, Ken., Sheriff’s Department.
The federal criminal complaint charges Caldwell with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of carjacking and one count of using a firearm during a violent crime.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the federal criminal complaint, Caldwell and an accomplice approached a 67-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man at about 5:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, as he was leaving his home. They allegedly threatened the victim at gunpoint to give them money and a vehicle. He was forced to hand over his keys to his van, his wallet and cash. The victim was ordered into his garage, the affidavit says, where he was beaten by Caldwell and his accomplice and struck in the head with the handgun, a Cobra .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol. The victim was then ordered into his van, a 1998 Chevrolet C/K 1500.
The victim told law enforcement officers that he was driven around to multiple ATMs, but he was covered with a blanket most of the time and was unable to see the locations where the carjackers attempted to use his debit card. He couldn’t remember his PIN number so they were unable to get cash, which made them angry. According to the affidavit, the carjackers pretended to be on the phone with an accomplice who was holding his wife hostage; at one point after another failed ATM attempt, they informed him they had killed his wife, which was false.
They continued to drive and stopped at a drive-through restaurant, the affidavit says, where one of the men sat next to the victim and shoved the barrel of the gun into his mouth, breaking his teeth, and told him that he would kill him if he moved. After getting food, they allegedly tied his hands together with a boot strap and had him lying in the floor with a blanket over his face so he couldn’t see. They continued driving and made several stops for purchases with the victim’s credit and debit cards. Law enforcement authorities, who had been contacted by the victim’s wife, were tracking the use of the victim’s credit and debit cards as they were used or attempted to be used along I-70 eastbound. Investigators obtained surveillance photos and video from some of the locations.
When they arrived at a rest stop, the affidavit says, one of the carjackers told the other to watch the victim while the carjacker slept. The victim managed to untie his hands and retrieve a homemade 45-pound weight from under the seat of the van. He struck both of the carjackers in the head (causing a gash above the eye of one of them) and made an attempt to escape, but was unsuccessful. He was then beaten heavily by both men, according to the affidavit.
They began driving again, the affidavit says, and the victim pretended to be knocked out. The driver of the van was having trouble maneuvering the large van while holding the gun, so he sat the gun on the floorboard so he could use both hands to steer the vehicle. The victim lunged for the handgun and pointed it at the two carjackers as he demanded they pull over. When the vehicle pulled over, the driver made a move towards the victim, who pulled the trigger of the loaded gun, but it failed to fire. The victim quickly racked the slide to chamber a round, but both men had fled from the vehicle with the keys.
The victim also ran from the vehicle. As he ran down the street in Jennings, Mo., the affidavit says, he turned and saw the two carjackers had returned to the vehicle and were slowly driving in his direction. The victim hid between several houses as he watched them drive away in his van. He then contacted the police.
The stolen van was recovered on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Nelson County, Ken. The Nelson County Sheriff’s deputy who recovered the vehicle recognized Caldwell from the surveillance photographs and video. A captain with the Boyle County, Ken., Sheriff’s Department also recognized Caldwell. An anonymous call to the TIPS Hotline also identified Caldwell as one of the carjackers. Caldwell’s father contacted law enforcement authorities on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, and informed them that he recognized his son in the surveillance video and photographs.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this complaint are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Barnes. It was investigated by the FBI and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.