Authorities are investigating whether three men kidnapped the wrong person in New Jersey before driving nearly 1,200 miles to mid-Missouri where the victim was rescued.
The victim, Jeffrey Muller, 59, was kidnapped from his New Jersey pet shop early Friday morning by three Missouri men with ties to New Jersey.
Douglas Stangeland, age 46, of Nevada, Mo., Andrew David Wadel, age 21, and Lonnie Eugene Swarnes, age 44 both of Rich Hill, Mo. are in custody after Muller TMs attempted escape.
Vernon County Missouri Sheriff Ron Peckman described the three western Missouri men as "bumbling idiots" to the Associated Press.
But New Jersey police say the kidnapping took "extensive planning and coordination.
Newton New Jersey police responded to the J & G Pet Store at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8 when Muller TMs wife discovered Muller was missing. Police found a few of Muller TMs belongings in the parking lot near the store TMs entrance.
The suspects used a Taser on Muller as he struggled to get free. They then bound his hands and feet and held him captive at gun point.
Muller was taken halfway across the country to Lake Ozark by the suspects, where their car broke down at Rick's C-Store & More. Muller managed to get his hands free and attempted to escape. An employee saw the Muller TMs escape and called police.
Lake Ozark police responded to the call and arrested Stangeland, Wadel and Swarnes for assault, weapons and drugs. New Jersey police are preparing charges for kidnapping.
Muller was taken to Lake Regional Hospital for minor injuries and was released the same day. New Jersey police met him at the hospital and escorted him home.
Stangeland, used to own the Tobacco Shack in Nevada, Mo. but no longer works there.
He used to own the store but doesn TMt any longer, an employee said. And hasn TMt for more than five years.
The employee didn TMt have a comment when asked about Stangeland TMs ties to New Jersey
Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating several "potential motives" for the kidnapping but aren't releasing any details. Police say the victim didn't know his captors.