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January 23-- Antonio Lamont Murray, 38, Cecil Dewitt Nelson, 32, and Gary Lenion McDonald, 35, each from Pembroke, Georgia, were charged by criminal complaint in federal court with kidnapping.  McDonald’s initial appearance was held Saturday in Savannah, Georgia before United States Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith.  Initial appearances for Murray and Nelson were held today in Savannah, Georgia, also before United States Magistrate Judge Smith.  All three defendants remain in custody pending detention hearings, which have yet to be scheduled. 

        An affidavit in support of the complaint alleged that Murray, Nelson and McDonald were involved in two separate kidnappings in the Bryan County, Georgia area.  The first kidnapping occurred on December 1, 2011. During this incident, the victim was abducted at gunpoint and later released only after a ransom of approximately $19,000 was paid.  The second kidnapping occurred on January 12, 2012.  The second victim was also abducted at gunpoint and released only after a ransom of over $250,000 was paid.

     United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver stated, “The violent and brazen kidnappings alleged in the criminal complaint are acts none too familiar in today’s society.  When these outrageous acts occur, those responsible must be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent that the law allows.  The United States Attorney’s Office has no higher priority than protecting the American people.”

        FBI SAC Brian D. Lamkin stated, “The surrounding law enforcement community, as a whole, came together in response to two serious and violent kidnappings and, as a result much headway has been made in the form of today’s announced arrest of three Pembroke, Georgia residents. While much headway has been made, this matter remains pending and the FBI and its law enforcement partners asks that anyone with information regarding this matter contact Savannah CrimeStoppers or their nearest law enforcement agency.”

        The charges against Murray, Nelson and McDonald resulted from a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, NCIS, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia State Patrol, the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the Richmond Hill Police Department, the Pooler Police Department, the Pembroke Police Department and the Hinesville Police Department.  The investigation of this case remains ongoing.  Anyone having information relating to the two alleged kidnappings are urged to call the Savannah CrimeStoppers Tip Line at (912) 234-2020. 

        The maximum penalty for the kidnapping offense against all three defendants is life in prison.  United States Attorney Edward Tarver emphasized that a complaint is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The burden in any criminal case is on the Government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

        Assistant United States Attorneys Brian T. Rafferty and Carlton R. Bourne, Jr. are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.  For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.