A man and woman were being held without bond at the Pittsburg County Jail early today following arrests Monday on initial complaints of kidnapping.
Natasha Sexton, 23, and Shawn McAbee, 34, were arrested after police rescued 21-year-old Mari Elizabeth Danley early Monday morning. Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns said police found Danley at McAbee’s trailer at the Super 8 Motel and RV Park in McAlester.
Kerns said Danley and Sexton are sisters. He identified McAbee as Sexton’s boyfriend and as the manger of the Valley Inn bar.
Charges in the case were pending as of early today.
Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns said Danley still had “ring” mark impressions on her wrists, from where she had been bound, when he saw her on Monday.
After police found Danley at the trailer, she was taken to the McAlester Regional Health Center, where she was treated for minor injuries, before being released, according to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Jessica Brown.
Danley is currently staying with a family member, Kerns said.
Danley’s Ford Aerostar van was located over the weekend stuck in a ditch approximately 1/4 mile south on Blanco Road from Wise Road, according to Sgt. Richard Bedford with the sheriff’s department. The van appeared to have been abandoned.
Investigators now say it was staged by Danley’s captors to look that way.
Those searching for Danley did not, of course, have that information on Sunday.
That’s when Kerns put together a group of law enforcement officers to conduct a search of the area where the van had been found.
After an extensive search on Sunday of the area where the van had been left, law enforcement officers and volunteers had been ready to start plastering hundreds of posters around the area on Monday as part of their continued search for Danley.
“We had color copies with her photograph,” Kerns said.
Those plans changed when police found Danley in a travel trailer in the early morning darkness around 1:30 a.m. on Monday.
Kerns said Danley had been able to break loose and get her hands on a cell phone at one point and call her grandmother. The sheriff’s department then contacted McAlester police because city police would be able to get a patrol car to the trailer more quickly, Kerns said.
City police, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff’s department converged on the scene, where police arrested McAbee and Sexton and found Danley, Kerns said.
The day before, volunteers had joined law enforcement officers in searching the area where Danley’s van had been found, the sheriff said.
“I had 23 reserve officers, six full-time off-duty officers and five on-duty officers,” Kerns said.
Air Evac had a helicopter that went up Sunday to aid in the search and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol had a plane in the sky, piloted by Jay Thompson, Kerns said.
The OSBI also had a “FLIR Unit” in the sky that can detect body heat, he said.
The Blanco Fire Department assisted, along with other volunteers, the sheriff said.
“We had several on horseback, some four-wheelers and we put a flat-bottomed boat in a creek,” Kerns said.
The search started where Frink Road runs into Wise Road.
“We had a search three-quarters of a mile deep and three-quarters of a mile wide,” the sheriff said. “We had seven groups and an officer with each one.”
“When we were sure she wasn’t on the ground near the scene, we had the color copies ready with her photograph,” Kerns said, referring to the next step planned in the search for Monday.
That changed when police found Danley Monday morning.
In addition to McAlester police and OSBI Agent John Jones, several sheriff’s deputies were at the trailer prior to the arrests of McAbee and Sexton, including Bedford and deputies Brad Wilson and Jeremy Kennon, according to Kerns.
The sheriff said he very much appreciated the help of all those who had turned out to help with the search on Sunday.
“It would have been hard for just our guys to do it,” he said.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com