Gary Engel and Steven Manning were initially charged with kidnapping and holding for ransom Charles Ford, a Kansas City, Mo., bar owner, in 1984. The two men were accused of beating Ford and demanding $1 million from his family for his return. The family raised $50,000, which prosecutors at the time said Engel and Manning took before dumping a badly beaten Ford in a cemetery, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star said Wednesday.
The two men were initially convicted after a lengthy investigation that turned on a jailhouse informant fingering the them. Manning was sentenced to life in prison and Engel to a 90-year term. But the convictions were overturned on appeal in 1998 when a judge ruled the jailhouse informant planted by investigators violated Manning's civil rights.
Manning maintained he'd been framed and the victim of overzealous prosecution.
Manning also was convicted of murder in an unrelated case involving a business partner named Jimmy Pelligrino. That conviction, too, was overturned on appeal thanks to the jailhouse informant's involvement and revelations a police officer allegedly paid a witness' mother $500 to get her son to testify.
Now, nearly 30 years after Ford's abduction -- and after three convictions were overturned -- police said they finally have airtight evidence against Manning and Engel, who they said have allegedly been caught on tape planning a nearly identical scheme to the first.
The men were recorded allegedly planning to pretend they were police officers and to abduct a Chicago-area businessman, extort his family and force him to sign over real estate holdings. Police said the pair coldly discussed how to kill the man and dismember his body.
Engel, after being shown the evidence against him, killed himself in his jail cell. Manning, though, remained as defiant as ever, mouthing the letters "BS" to reporters prior to a court hearing in November, an apparent reference to his thoughts on the most recent charges against him.