Court rules 3 charged in kidnapping plot can return to US

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A court in Scotland has denied an appeal by three people charged in a failed kidnapping-murder plot in Virginia, paving the way for them to be extradited back to the United States to stand trial, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors said Valerie Hayes, Gary Reburn, and Jennifer Amnott fled to the United Kingdom after the attempted 2018 kidnapping of five children in a Mennonite community in Dayton, Virginia. U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh said in a news release that the three have repeatedly sought to block their extradition back to the U.S., where they face a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

Kavanaugh said the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland denied their appeal Friday and determined there is no bar to their extradition.

“I am grateful to see the extradition process proceeding,” Kavanaugh said. “This community was shocked when these events occurred and the underlying plot was uncovered.”

Hayes, Reburn, and 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 firearms offenses.

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

In court documents, prosecutors say the Amnotts were living in Florida in July 2018 when Hayes contacted them and said three of her children had been kidnapped and were in the custody of two separate Mennonite families in Dayton, Virginia. Prosecutors have said none of the children they planned to kidnap were related to any of the defendants.

Prosecutors alleged that Hayes — who was then living with Reburn in Maryland — knew the Amnotts could not have their own children and promised that if they helped her kidnap the total of five children, they could keep one of the other children as their own. Prosecutors said that in order to carry out the kidnappings, the four planned to kill the parents of the children.

According to prosecutors, Hayes, Reburn and Frank Amnott tried to carry out the plan July 29, 2018. They said Hayes approached the door of the first house, disguised in clothing to appear as a Mennonite. When the father opened the door, they allegedly forced their way inside and held him at gunpoint.

The mother ran outside and called 911. A deputy with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office responded and thwarted the plot. Prosecutors said the deputy found Frank Amnott in the basement holding one of the parents at gunpoint.

Prosecutors said Hayes, Reburn and Jennifer Amnott fled to Scotland in August 2018. They were apprehended and have been fighting extradition to the U.S.

Attorneys for Hayes, Reburn and Jennifer Amnott could not immediately be reached for comment. Kavanaugh said further appeals of the extradition are possible.

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