Kidnappers allegedly took wrong man

Jan. 12, 2010 at 9:34 PM
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NEWTON, N.J., Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Investigators say three men who allegedly kidnapped a New Jersey pet supply dealer, drove him to Missouri and beat him may have grabbed the wrong guy.

Jeff Muller, 59, who was abducted from his store in Sussex County in New Jersey's northwest corner, escaped Saturday at a convenience store in the Ozarks, The Star Ledger of Newark, N.J., reported. He told police he was beaten and stunned with a Taser while spending 24 hours in a car with his abductors.

Vernon County Sheriff Ron Peckman, who is leading the investigation at the Missouri end, described the kidnappers as "bumbling idiots" who mistook Muller for another man with the same name. But authorities said Muller was in grave danger.

Douglas Stangeland, 46, of Nevada, Mo., Lonnie Eugene Swarnes, 44, and his nephew, Andrew David Wadel, 21, both of Rich Hill, Mo., were arrested and face kidnapping charges in New Jersey. Peckman said the three are also suspected of breaking into a construction company executive's home in Kansas City in November and shooting him in the hand. During the invasion, Peckman said, they demanded to see someone named Muller.

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