Two Co-Defendants Sentenced to a Total of 13 Years and 10 Months in Prison for Kidnapping Texas Woman
FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Michael Roberts, age 25, of Bella Vista and Jason Petitt, age 25, of Fayetteville, were sentenced today on one count each of Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping. Roberts was sentenced to 120 months in prison, five years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $3,500.00 fine and $1,832.00 in restitution to be paid jointly and severally with the co-defendants. Petitt was sentenced to 46 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $2,000.00 fine and $1,832.00 in restitution to be paid jointly and severally with the co-defendants. They, along with Theron Vance, age 22, of Rogers, were indicted by a federal grand jury on August 13, 2014. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearings in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.
U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “With the sentences announced today, it is our hope that the victim in this case can rest easier knowing that justice has prevailed over the terror that she once faced. The elaborate planning that these defendants went to in order to keep her from testifying against one of them is unthinkable. We will continue to hold those that commit these violent crimes accountable so that the residents of the Western District of Arkansas can live in a community free from fear.”
“Roberts and Petitt terrorized the victim and have earned their place in a federal prison,” commented Special Agent in Charge David T. Resch with the FBI in Little Rock. “We are proud of our partnership with the United States Attorney, the Bentonville Police Department, and the Dallas Police Department in bringing them to justice.”
According to court records, on June 14, 2014, the Bentonville Police Department received a 911 call from an employee at the Walmart Supercenter that a woman had been kidnapped. Once officers arrived on scene they were able to determine the victim entered the restroom at Walmart and handed an employee a note informing them that she had been kidnapped from Dallas, Texas by her ex-boyfriend Michael Roberts. By the time officers arrived at Walmart, Roberts had fled the scene. According to an interview of the victim, the previous night between 6:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. she was walking into her apartment in Dallas, Texas when she was attacked from behind by Michael Roberts and physically assaulted. Theron Vance, a co-defendant in this case, was present and assisted Roberts by acting as the lookout. Roberts forced the victim into her apartment and began restraining and choking her when Vance entered the apartment and identified himself as an FBI agent. The victim was told she could either go with the two men or she would be killed. The victim cooperated and packed a bag with her belongings. She was also told to write a note to her roommate explaining her disappearance. She did so, but also left another note in the refrigerator that said “call 911.” The victim was then transported against her will to the Western District of Arkansas in Bentonville by Roberts and Vance. Prior to leaving the Dallas area, Vance took the victim’s phone and broke it on the sidewalk, making it inoperable. On the way to Bentonville the victim advised they stopped in Eufaula, Oklahoma at a gas station, where she left another note in the restroom identifying the vehicle in which she was being transported (this note was later recovered by Oklahoma Police). The victim was brought to the residence of Michael Roberts, located at 807 Southwest Krug in Bentonville during the early morning hours of June 14th. Later that day the victim was taken to Walmart where the employee was notified that she had been kidnapped.
While interviewing the victim officers noted that her lip appeared to be busted on the inside of her mouth and she had a large bruise on her right forearm. According to the victim, she was told by Roberts and Vance that she had been kidnapped because they did not want her to testify against Roberts in a pending criminal case in Texas and that they were going to keep her until the proceedings were over. The victim was able to positively identify Vance as one of the individuals that kidnapped her and transported her from Dallas, Texas to Bentonville, Arkansas against her will.
As the Bentonville Police Department was investigating the case, Detectives with the Dallas Police Department searched the victim’s apartment and located the two notes and also found a blood stain on the carpet. Bentonville Detectives then executed a search warrant at defendant Roberts’ residence, where they located the victim’s bloody clothing. Prior to executing the warrant, officers located Petitt at the residence. During his interview with detectives, Petitt informed officers that he and Roberts had been roommates, that he knew Roberts had an ex-girlfriend in Dallas that he hated, and that Roberts told him he was going to “take care of it.” Petitt also admitted to assisting Roberts in the commission of the kidnapping. Specifically, Petitt stated that Roberts and Vance had been planning to abduct and kill the victim; Petitt admitted that Roberts gave him his debit card, car, and cell phone to make it look like Roberts never left town; Petitt admitted that he did use Roberts’ cell phone and debit card to establish an alibi for him and make it appear as though Roberts was still in the Bentonville area while Roberts and Vance traveled to Dallas to kidnap the victim. Roberts and Petitt were both arrested on September 5, 2014. Roberts pleaded guilty November 3, 2014, and Petitt pleaded guilty October 21, 2014.
On June 16, 2014, defendant Vance was located and arrested. Subsequent to being advised of and waiving his Miranda rights he admitted his role in the kidnapping. Specifically, Vance admitted that approximately four months prior to the kidnapping that he and Roberts began planning; Vance admitted that a week prior to the abduction, he and Roberts drove to Dallas to scout the area; Vance admitted to wearing a fake FBI badge during the abduction and breaking the victim’s cell phone so they would not be tracked. In addition, Vance disclosed to investigators the location of several items used in the kidnapping, including a blonde wig, razor blades, zip ties and a book on the human anatomy. These items were subsequently recovered by investigators. Furthermore, Vance’s vehicle was used to transport the victim from Texas to Arkansas.
This case was investigated by the Bentonville Police Department, The Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Dallas Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney David Harris and Assistant United States Attorney Kim Davis prosecuted the case for the United States.