Police: N.J. kidnap victim rescued in central Mo. convenience store

Monday, January 11, 2010

LAKE OZARK, Mo. -- A New Jersey kidnapping victim was rescued in central Missouri after a convenience store employee spotted him struggling to escape from his captors, police say.

Jeff Muller, 59, of Newton, N.J., was freed Saturday and treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released, Lake Ozark police said in a news release. Three suspects, all from western Missouri, were arrested.

They were being held without bond Sunday in the Miller County Jail. Lake Ozark police said local charges were pending, and the FBI said federal charges had not yet been filed.

Authorities said they did not yet have a motive for the crime. The Lake Ozark Police Department said it was working with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to determine why the man was taken by force and brought to Missouri.

The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., reported that the ordeal started Friday morning when the suspects approached the pet store owner outside his business, J&G Discount Pet Foods.

Muller told authorities he was shot with a stun gun and forced into a car, where he was falsely told that his wife was being held captive at the couple's Newton home. His wife became alarmed when she arrived at the pet store about two hours later and found it locked and dark. Police found Muller's eyeglasses and lunch in the parking lot, where his vehicle also was parked and locked.

Lake Ozark police said the suspects stopped at the convenience store when they had car troubles and that's when Muller tried to escape. Police said that when officers arrived, the suspects were trying to restrain Muller.

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