You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 31, 2022

High Court of Scotland Denies Appeal of Child Kidnapping Fugitives

Appeals Court Rules Valerie Hayes, Gary Reburn, Jennifer Amnott to be Extradited

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The High Court of Justiciary in Scotland has denied the appeal of three individuals and determined there is no bar to their extradition back to the United States to stand trial for an alleged attempted violent kidnapping they planned and attempted in July 2018 in the Western District of Virginia.  Further appeals of extradition are possible.

In early August 2018, Valerie Perfect Hayes, 41, Gary Blake Reburn, 58, and Jennifer Lynn Amnott, 36, fled to the United Kingdom after the attempted kidnapping of five children in a Mennonite Community within Dayton, Virginia, and have repeatedly sought to block their extradition back to the United States based on the severity of the mandatory life sentence each would receive if convicted.    

“I am grateful to see the extradition process proceeding,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “This community was shocked when these events occurred and the underlying plot was uncovered.  Although we expect further appeals, the Department of Justice will never stop working to bring those charged back to the United States to face justice.”

Hayes, Reburn, and Jennifer Amnott are charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping involving children, conspiracy to kill witnesses with the intent to prevent communication with law enforcement, kidnapping, attempting kidnapping, attempted killing of a witness, and various firearms offenses.

Jennifer Amnott’s husband, Frank Jesse Amnott, pleaded guilty in December 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit the offense of kidnapping, one count of conspiracy to kill witnesses, and one count of brandishing, carrying, and using a firearm in commission of a federal crime of violence.

According to court documents, in 2014, Frank and Jennifer Amnott befriended Hayes, who consistently claimed to the Amnotts, and others, that she worked for the U.S. government and that her work included services for the intelligence community or other clandestine organizations.

In July 2018, the Amnotts were living in Florida when they were contacted by Hayes, who was living with her boyfriend, Gary Reburn, in Maryland. Hayes told the Amnotts that three of her children had been kidnapped and were in the custody of two separate Mennonite families in Dayton, Virginia. Hayes asked the Amnotts for assistance in recovering these children, as well as two additional children. Hayes knew the Amnotts could not conceive their own children and promised that if they helped Hayes kidnap the children, the Amnotts could keep one of the other children as their own.

Hayes, Reburn, and the Amnotts devised a plan to travel from Maryland to Dayton, Virginia to kidnap the children from two separate homes. To effectuate the kidnapping, the conspirators planned to kill the parents of the children.  According to the plan, Hayes, Reburn, and Frank Amnott would enter the first house and hold the parents at gunpoint.  After the two children were secured by Hayes, Reburn and Frank Amnott would then murder the parents.  Next, they planned to drive to the second house, force entry, and perform a similar execution. In planning to kill the parents at both houses, the conspirators sought to eliminate witnesses to the abductions.  Afterwards, all of the children would be taken from Virginia to Maryland, and the Amnotts would return to Florida with the child promised to them by Hayes.  

All five children to be kidnapped were younger than eight years old.

On the evening of July 29, 2018, the conspirators put their plan into action. Jennifer Amnott remained in Maryland watching Hayes’ other children, but remained in contact, receiving updates from Virginia.  Hayes, Reburn, and Frank Amnott waited until nightfall, at which time they drove to the first house.  There, a husband and wife were preparing to retire for the evening while their two young children were already asleep.

Hayes approached the door, disguised in clothing to appear as a Mennonite.  After the father opened the door, the group forced their way inside and held him at gunpoint.  With the father subdued, Hayes began to look for his wife and the two children.  Unbeknownst to Hayes, Reburn, and Amnott, when they forced their way into the home, the mother had grabbed a cordless phone and ran outside of the house, hiding in a cornfield near the home. She dialed 9-1-1 to report the incident and a deputy with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office was immediately dispatched.

Inside the home, Amnott and Reburn took the father – at gunpoint – to the basement, where they bound his wrists together behind his back.  Reburn went upstairs as Amnott stayed and held him at gunpoint.

Shortly after the 9-1-1 call, a deputy with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene.  The deputy entered the house and located the children, who were unharmed and still in their bedroom.  The deputy proceeded to the basement where he encountered Frank Amnott, holding the father at gunpoint. Amnott was taken into custody without incident.  

Because their planned abduction and murders at the first house had been thwarted, the conspirators did not make their way to the second house as planned.  Instead, Hayes and Reburn returned to Maryland where they reunited with Jennifer Amnott, and thereafter escaped to Scotland.

The investigation of the case is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.  The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs is providing significant support.  United States Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh and Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Jones are prosecuting the case for the United States. 

Updated January 31, 2022