Man charged in mistaken-identity kidnapping case will go to trial - KOAM TV 7

Nevada, Mo. man charged in mistaken-identity kidnapping case will go to trial

Updated: Feb 7, 2010
William "Billy" Barger William "Billy" Barger

Updated April 16, 2010 - 5:40 PM CST

VERNON COUNTY, MO. - Billy Barger, 48, of Nevada, Missouri is charged with eleven counts including home invasion, kidnapping and assault.

Investigators say Barger encouraged three men to enter a home near Nevada where the owner was questioned at gunpoint.

Andrew Wadel, Doug Stangland, and Lonnie Swarnes are charged with kidnapping a New Jersey man named Jeffrey Muller outside his pet store in New Jersey.

It turns out the men kidnapped the wrong Jeffrey Muller.

They drove nearly 1200 miles before Muller was rescued in Miller County, Missouri.

Updated Feb 7, 2010

NEVADA, MO. - A kidnapping case stretching more then a thousand miles in 24 hours has a new suspect.

According to the Vernon County sheriff, Roy Slates, 55, has been charged in the abduction of the wrong man out of New Jersey.  The Nevada contractor is accused of concealing his involvement in two crimes, the kidnapping and a home invasion in November.

In January, Jeffrey Muller escaped from his captors in Ozark, Missouri.  He was kidnapped by three Vernon County men allegedly directed by William Barger of Nevada.

Sheriff Ron Peckman says Slates allegedly financed the trip by the other men to New Jersey to abduct Muller.

Slates is accused of conspiring with Barger to get back $400,000 lost in a Utah property investment with Charles Scammel and Jeffrey Muller.

Scammel was the victim of a home invasion in Vernon County in November.  Slates denied knowledge of the invasion at the time.

Sheriff Peckman says Slates contends he tried to back out of the deal because he did not want anyone to get hurt.

Slates is currently out of jail after posting a $5,000 bond.


Updated Jan 13, 2010 - 4:45 PM CST

Authorities have made a fourth arrest stemming from the investigation of a home invasion and kidnapping.

William "Billy" Barger, 48, is in the Vernon County, Missouri jail accused of encouraging three men to invade a rural home south of Metz, Missouri.

Authorities say he also helped or encouraged the three to kidnap a New Jersey man.

Authorities have also charged Barger, a convicted felon, with illegal possession of firearms and with evidence tampering for concealing 17 guns.

The three other men charged in the home invasion and kidnapping are Andrew Wadel, Doug Stangeland, and Lonnie Swarnes.

Authorities are investigating whether the trio abducted the wrong person in New Jersey before driving nearly 1200 miles to Miller County, Missouri.  That is where their car broke down and the victim was rescued.


Updated Jan 11, 2010 - 5:43 PM CST


LAKE OZARK, MO. - Three southwest Missouri men are behind bars suspected of crimes stretching 1200 miles, from New Jersey to Missouri.

Lake Ozark police apprehended three suspects Saturday morning after a badly beaten man ran into a convenience store claiming he had been kidnapped from New Jersey.

Law enforcement officials believe the criminals were headed to Vernon County.

Vernon County Sheriff Ron Peckman describes the three southwest Missouri men as "bumbling idiots."

New Jersey police say it began in Newton City, N.J. when Jeff Muller, 59, was approached by three suspects in the parking lot of his pet food store.

In a statement to police Muller says he was assaulted and threatened at gun point with bodily harm and harm to his family.

Twenty four hours and 1200 miles later, an employee at a convenience store in Lake Ozark, Missouri says surveillance cameras captured Muller being chased around the parking lot by three suspects.

Those three suspects were arrested and identified as:

  • Douglas Stangeland, 46, of Nevada, Missouri
  • Lonnie Swarnes, 44, of Elk City, Missouri
  • Andrew Wadel, 21

And it turns out the three suspects could possibly have criminal ties to the Four States.

Sheriff Ron Peckman believes the three may have been responsible for a home invasion in November 2009 in which three white men broke into the home of Chuck and Linda Scammal of Richards, Missouri.

Chuck Scammal was shot once in the right hand with a shotgun during the crime on November 9.

On Monday Sheriff Peckman and Scammal met with prosecutors to decide what charges would be pressed in Nevada.

Stangeland, Wadel and Swarnes are being held at the Miller County jail in Missouri.

As for Muller he is currently in a Missouri hospital being treated for minor injuries.

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