Silver Alert issued for missing 22-year-old woman from Beech Grove

Detroit man sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping 2 Indianapolis teens in 2015

John Thomas

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A Detroit man will spend the remainder of his life in prison for kidnapping two Indianapolis children in retaliation for stolen drugs.

John Thomas, 40, was sentenced to life without parole Thursday by U.S. District Chief Judge Richard L. Young. Thomas was convicted in September for two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Thomas took the teens and held them for ransom when he couldn’t find their sister, who Thomas says stole $120,000, cocaine and pills from him. The victims’ sister insisted Thomas’ claims were false in an interview in 2015.

“I didn’t take all the money they said I took and I did not take the drugs. I only took some of the money and I left a lot of it there,” she said.

After a 24-hour search, one of the teenage siblings was ultimately found tied up in the back of an SUV in Detroit. The 16-year-old’s fingers, prosecutors say, were cut dangerously deep from accomplices torturing him.

His sister was taken first to Kentucky. Then the 13-year-old was dropped all alone at a Taco Bell in Ohio and given money to take a cab back home to Indy.

“Mr. Thomas is a career criminal with previous convictions in Detroit for home invasions and selling drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler.  “When he came to Indianapolis to kidnap our children, law enforcement insured that career would come to an end-permanently.  Thomas will not sell any more drugs, he will not break into anyone’s home and will not kidnap any more children.  We have the hard working IMPD officers and FBI agents to thank for that.”

Five other co-conspirators have pleaded guilty and sentenced:

  • Alaa Al-Salehi, a/k/a Big Boi, 24: Sentenced to 11 years.
  • April Sandell, 27: Sentenced to 10 years.
  • Bernando Reeves, a/k/a C-Note, 22: Sentenced to six years.
  • Mohammed Karkash a/k/a MJ, 24: Sentenced to three years.
  • Ali Hussain Ashore, 28: Sentenced to 1.5 years.