A Louisiana man is under arrest after allegedly putting into place a bizarre plan to kidnap and torture his wife, with whom he was locked in a bitter divorce battle.
Court filings attained by the Acadiana Advocate, claim Lawrence Michael Handley hired two known criminals who abducted his estranged wife, stripped her naked in the back of a van, tortured her and threatened to rape and murder her. The kidnappers later drowned in a canal after running into the swamps to evade police capture.
Two gunmen burst into the home the victim used to share with Handley on the afternoon of Sunday, August 6. They handcuffed two adults and a juvenile, taking Handley’s wife away after putting a black bag over her head and putting her in the back of a white van.
After being abducted, the victim claims she was "stripped, tortured and abused." Her kidnappers threatened to rape and murder her while "in route to their destination where Mr. Handley was waiting." Court filings claim Handley had purchased the "items necessary to kidnap, bind, torture and abuse" the victim.
Later that day, police spotted the van driving along the shoulder of Interstate 10 during stopped traffic. They pursued the vehicle until it got stuck in the mud, at which point, two men jumped out and fled into a nearby swamp. In the back of the van police discovered the woman, who was bound.
The following day, two boys who were out on the water in the Intracoastal Waterway spotted a body floating in the water. Police later recovered the bodies of Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Montreal Haynes, both of whom had drowned. They were identified by the clothing they wore as the kidnappers. Both men were 27 years old and had extensive criminal records.
Authorities apprehended Lawrence Handley at a motel in Slidell, Louisiana on August 11, according to ABC affiliate WTOK in Mississippi. He has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping, online impersonation, and three counts of violating protective orders, one of which is a felony.
He has a prior fraud conviction from 2005, when he used a fake $22,000 cashier's check to charter a private jet from Lafayette to Boston.
Handley, who founded a drug rehab network that recently sold for over $21 million, has been involved in divorce proceedings since April. The couple have one child together and according to court documents, the divorce includes allegations of violent threats, with both parties seeking restraining orders against the other.
Handley is being held in the Lafayette Parish jail in lieu of $266,000 bail.
[Photo: Slidell Police Department]