Ex-Bethesda lacrosse coach arrested in bizarre murder, kidnapping plot

A former Bethesda, Maryland, high school lacrosse coach is under arrest in connection with an attempted murder and kidnapping case so bizarre that even federal prosecutors say it reads “like the script of a bad horror movie.”

Walter Johnson High School principal Jennifer Baker assured students in a letter home to parents that the case against former varsity lacrosse coach Gary Reburn has nothing to do with his time at the school.

“I wanted to share with our community that we recently learned our former varsity lacrosse coach, Gary B. Reburn, was arrested for his role in an attempted murder and kidnapping in Virginia,” Baker wrote.

The message from the school came after one of Reburn’s alleged co-conspirators, Frank Amnott, pleaded guilty in federal court to the failed kidnapping plot.

Court documents filed by prosecutors in Amnott’s case lay out details of the elaborate plot allegedly hatched by Reburn’s girlfriend, Valerie Hayes, in July 2018.

According to the documents, Hayes convinced a Florida couple, Frank and Jennifer Amnott, to help her and Reburn kidnap five children from two Mennonite families living in rural Dayton, Virginia. Hayes had told the couple that three of the children were actually hers and had been stolen from her, prosecutors said.

Hayes said that if they helped her get them back and kill the children’s alleged abductors, the couple could have one of the kids, according to the documents.

Investigators said, in fact, none of the kids were Hayes’ children.

Nevertheless, the documents said she, Reburn and Frank Amnott drove to Dayton to carry out the plot.

Before arriving at one of the intended targets’ homes, Hayes attempted to disguise herself in Mennonite clothing that she had previously stolen from that house, according to prosecutors.

Then, after knocking on the front door, the trio forced their way into a family’s home, holding the father of the house at gunpoint. There were two young children sleeping in the home.

The mother was able to run away from the house and hid in a nearby cornfield, where she called 911. Hayes and Reburn got away, but when a Rockingham County sheriff’s deputy arrived at the home, he arrested Frank Amnott, who was still there.

Prosecutors said no one was hurt.

Amnott pleaded guilty last week to three charges, including one — conspiracy to kill witnesses — that carries a mandatory life sentence. Amnott’s sentencing is scheduled for May 26.

After their plan went awry, investigators said Reburn, Hayes and Jennifer Amnott fled to the U.K., where they are now awaiting extradition.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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