Federal charges filed against 6 people in Amber Alert kidnapping case
INDIANAPOLIS (March 4, 2015) – Federal charges have been filed against six people in connection with this week’s Amber Alert kidnapping.
United State Attorney Josh Minkler announced that all six face conspiracy to commit kidnapping charges.
Those charged are:
- John Thomas (aka “Jay”)
- Bernando Reeves (aka “C-Note”)
- Ali Hussain Ashore
- Mohammed Karkash (aka “Moe” or “MJ”)
- April Sandell
- Alaa Al-Salehi (aka “Alex” or “Big Boi”)
Indianapolis Metropolitan police, Detroit police and federal authorities have been investigating the case since early Monday morning, when Aaron and Emma Blackwell were taken at gunpoint from a home on LaSalle Street around 3 a.m. Hours later, an Amber Alert was issued as police looked for the brother and sister. Both were eventually returned home safely.
On Monday around 2:30 a.m., three unidentified men armed with pistols kicked in the front door of the residence located in the 1200 block of N. LaSalle Street. Four people were present at the residence at the time of the home invasion: Kathleen Blackwell, mother of the two teens who were abducted, and Morris Bobbitt, Blackwell’s friend.
Blackwell told police that the kidnappers entered her bedroom and asked, “Where’s the money?”
She told the kidnappers she didn’t know. At this point, the kidnappers bound the two teens’ hands with zip ties and took Blackwell’s cell phone.
According to Bobbitt, he was asleep when he heard the kidnappers kick in the front door. He said he awoke to find three men armed with pistols demanding to know the location of the money. He told them he did not know.
One of the kidnappers then zip-tied Bobbitt’s hands and took his cell phone.
Blackwell and Bobbitt say the kidnappers then took the two teens out of the residence by force.
Shortly after, an unidentified kidnapper placed a ransom call from a blocked number to Stanley Blackwell, Kathleen Blackwell’s other son and the male teen’s brother. The kidnapper demanded envelopes of money in ransom for the return of the teens.
Stanley Blackwell says the kidnappers then demanded he meet the kidnappers in Miami with the money within 24 hours. Stanley told police he received 8 ransom calls. Police were present during at least one of those calls.
During one of the calls, the kidnapper said if their demands were not met, they would “chop the kids’ fingers off.”
Whitney Blackwell, the teens’ sister and John Thomas’ former girlfriend, was employed as an exotic dancer at a club in Detroit, Michigan. According to Whitney, Thomas is a drug dealer and she believed that Thomas was responsible for kidnapping the teens in retaliation for Whitney stealing a large sum of narcotics proceeds from Thomas. According to Thomas, Whitney had taken approximately $120,000, a kilogram of cocaine, and 4,000 OxyContin pills.
Whitney faces a charge of conspiracy to commit dealing cocaine.
Police conducted surveillance at Thomas’ residence and attempted to speak with him during a traffic stop. Thomas fled and was apprehended shortly after by police.
Thomas had several cell phones on his person. One of the phones was associated with Mohammad Karkash, and had messages asking for someone to relive him as he had been up for two days watching the “boy.”
Thomas told police he didn’t know where the teens were at.
Between 5 and 6 p.m. Monday, officers were following a maroon SUV as it traveled through Detroit. Around 7:30 p.m., officers attempted to stop the vehicle. The SUV sped up in an attempt to flee the scene. After a high-speed chase, the SUV hit a snow bank. The driver and passenger of the SUV were identified as Ali Hussain Ashore and Bernado Reeves.
Officers discovered the teen boy blindfolded and bound with zip ties in the luggage compartment of the SUV. The boy had cuts on his fingers that required stitches and his wrists were bruised.
On Tuesday around 2 a.m., a classmate of the teen girl told police she had been messaging with her via Facebook. Shortly after, Kathleen Blackwell called police and asked officers to go the LaSalle Street address to see if the teen was home. The teen girl was found at the house.
The girl had been taken to a Taco Bell in Dayton, Ohio. The kidnappers contacted a taxicab company to take her home. They gave her $200. No one was present at the LaSalle Street address when she arrived.
The siblings were placed in custody of Child Protective Services while authorities work to make sure their lives are no longer in danger.