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Bereaved targeted for extortion, cops say

July 9, 2008 at 2:54 PM

PORTLAND, Ore., July 9 (UPI) -- An Oregon trucker who allegedly targeted bereaved families for extortion was charged with kidnapping a deceased man's daughter-in-law, authorities said.

Jeffrey Todd Jones, 49, was arrested near his Portland home last week and faces kidnapping, extortion, burglary and robbery charges in connection with a July 1 incident, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Wednesday.

Police said Jones used published obituaries to target people he thought were wealthy, using telephone threats to demand thousands of dollars. When the family of a 76-year-old Portland man who died in June ignored his calls, Jones allegedly invaded the home of the man's 47-year-old daughter-in-law, held her against her will and threatened her family with death. The woman escaped the situation unharmed when the attacker left.

Police said they believe Jones had targeted other families. Multnomah County Judge Julie Frantz signed an order Monday increasing Jones' bail to $2 million, The Oregonian said.

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