Brothers Make First Court Appearance in Connection with Kidnapping
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Two brothers arrested in a $1.5 million kidnapping were identified in a photo lineup by the 9-year-old victim, who spent more than a day in a cardboard box, an FBI agent testified Monday.
U.S. Magistrate Harvey Schlesinger ordered Peter Farrell, 37, of Naples, and his brother Paul, 22, a second class seaman who was AWOL from the USS Saratoga near Jacksonville, held until a detention hearing Wednesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Ceballos said he would urge at that hearing that the men be held without bond. ″A million dollars wouldn’t be enough,″ he said.
The brothers and two other men are accused of orchestrating the Sept. 16 abduction of Amanda Mueller, the great-great-granddaughter of C. Frederick Mueller, who founded the C.F. Mueller Co. pasta business in 1868. She was found Saturday.
FBI agent Howard E. Glavin said Amanda positively identified the brothers from a series of photographs. He said she identified Peter Farrell as the man who picked her up at her school and who took Polaroid pictures of her to send to her father, and said Paul Farrell stayed with her in a condominium for three days and later placed her in the box.
Glavin also said Amanda identified the condominium and said she had written her name on the walls in several places. He said Paul Farrell, who was arrested Saturday night at his wedding reception, got the key to the condominium from his father for use on his honeymoon.
The agent testified that Edward O’Brien, 38, of Naples, another defendant in the case, had given statements implicating the brothers in the planning and execution of the kidnapping.
O’Brien and a fourth defendant, Richard Sais, 29, of Bonita Springs, appeared for their first hearing Monday in Miami before U.S. Magistrate Samuel Smargon. Smargon had set bond at $750,000 for the men Saturday, but revoked that at the government’s request and scheduled another hearing Thursday.
All four were being held under the federal Hobbs Act on charges of extortion and conspiracy. The charges stem from the fact that the ransom demand caused Amanda’s father to gather funds from his business, interfering with interstate commerce, said FBI agent William Wells.
However, Collier County Sheriff Aubrey Rogers said he expects all four men will be charged under state law with kidnapping, which carries a maximum term of life in prison, and a federal charge of extortion, which carries a maximum term of 25 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
During the last 28 hours before Amanda was found, the FBI said, Amanda was kept in an ant-infested refrigerator box left in woods east of Naples. She suffered ant and mosquito bites but otherwise was reported in good condition.
Her abductors left her sandwiches, sodas, a pillow and a blanket, the FBI said. She insisted on taking along schoolbooks and told authorities she worked on her homework.
Peter Farrell, a real estate developer, blamed Amanda’s father, John Mueller, who owns Mueller Co. Realtors in Naples with his wife Barbara, when he lost ″a considerable sum of money″ last spring on a real estate deal, said Wells, declining to provide details.
Authorities said Amanda was taken from her private school by one of the Farrell brothers, who identified himself as her father’s security guard and said he was to take her to a dentist appointment.
Within minutes, Mueller received a call telling him to go to a bank men’s room, where he found a note demanding $1.5 million.
On Friday, Mueller received instructions to put the money in two pieces of luggage and leave them at the Southwest Florida Regional Airport at Fort Myers.
The money was never claimed and authorities believe the kidnappers had gotten confused about where it was supposed to be.
Navy spokesman Dale Smith said Paul Farrell had been assigned to the Saratoga for about three years and worked in the maintenance department.
Farrell has been an ″unauthorized absentee″ from the Saratoga since he failed to return from leave Sept. 18.