Park Hills Police
File photo

Three Bonne Terre area men are being charged after police say they assaulted and kidnapped a Park Hills woman from her home.

James Thomas, 52, and Justin Boyer, 35, are being charged with a class B felony of burglary in the first degree, a class A felony of kidnapping in the first degree, a class B felony of assault in the first degree, and two felonies of armed criminal action. Danny Brauch, 53, is being charged with a class B felony of burglary in the first degree, a class A felony of kidnapping in the first degree and two felonies of armed criminal action.

According to the probable cause statement, at 11:08 a.m. Thursday a Park Hills officer and detective were called to the Flat River Apartments for a possible kidnapping. When the officers arrived he met with a woman who told him she had been kidnapped by three or four men. The officer noted that she was very upset and crying as she spoke.

The woman claimed the person she calls “Grandpa” forced his way into her house and threatened to kill her and her family.

The woman identified the man as Thomas and the officer issued a stop-and-hold on Thomas and his tan truck. Lake Timberline Police located the truck shortly after the broadcast and took Thomas and Brauch into custody.

The detective asked the other officer to have the woman and any witnesses to come to the police department where they could do a videotaped interview. The apartment complex management was able to provide a video of Thomas parking his tan truck near the woman’s apartment.

Also on the video was a gray or silver car that pulled in at the same time. The passenger of the truck was carrying what appeared to be a baseball bat. The driver of the gray car walked with both men from the truck to the same apartment.

About 10 minutes later all three men walked back to their respective vehicles, the two from the truck had the woman with them and she appeared to be struggling with them at the passenger door of the truck. Both vehicles then left the apartment complex.

The detective then went back to the police station and met with the woman where the interview took place. The woman said that Thomas came to her house with two or three other guys and threatened to kill her.

She said Thomas and Brauch, who was the passenger in the truck, forced their way into her bedroom while holding baseball bats. Thomas wanted to know where her uncle was at because he was convinced that they burglarized his house.

The woman told Thomas she didn’t steal anything. She said he picked up a can of hairspray and held a lighter in front of it while threatening to burn her if she didn’t tell the truth. Thomas and Brauch then forced the woman out of her apartment and into Thomas’s truck.

The woman did try to get away, but they held her by her hair. Once inside the truck, Thomas drove while Brauch sat in the back seat. He hit the woman on the left side of her head with an aluminum baseball bat.

Thomas continued to threaten that he was going to a country road where they were going to beat her to death if she didn’t tell where his stuff was. Brauch told Thomas that they can drive her to his house and put her into his shed where they could beat her. They drove the woman out Highway 8, but then returned and let her out near the apartment complex.

Photographs of Thomas, Brauch and Boyer were shown to the woman, and two others, who positively identified all three men as men who broke into her house and kidnapped her. The woman was then asked to go to the hospital to be treated for her injuries to her head from being hit with a baseball bat.

One of the witnesses said he and another individual were asleep on the couch in the living room. He said the door flew open and there were three or four guys with baseball bats. The witness said Brauch pointed the bat at the two who were startled awake and told them to stay put or they were going to be hit with the baseball bat.

He also said Thomas forced the woman into the back room where there was a lot of screaming. He said he wasn’t sure what they were screaming about other than Thomas was looking for something. He also verified that she was forced from the home and threatened. He said Boyer helped Thomas and Brauch get the woman out of the apartment. She was so scared she peed her pants.

The detective then spoke with Thomas and he admitted that he was really mad about someone burglarizing his house and he went to confront the woman and her uncle. He claimed he had no intention of hurting anyone, but he could understand how she would have been afraid because he was yelling.

The detective asked what was taken during this burglary and Thomas said nothing, but that wasn’t the point. He told the detective the point was his wife was at home and afraid because of the burglary.

Thomas was also asked why he didn’t report this to the police. Thomas agreed that he handled it in his own way but he insisted that the woman got into his truck on her own.

The detective pointed out he saw Thomas on the video and it looked as if he forced her into his truck. Thomas again denied that and said he and her family are very close. Thomas was then asked about the can of hairspray, which the woman said he threatened her with. He told the detective he picked it up while arguing with the woman.

The detective asked Thomas for consent to search his truck for the baseball bat and he agreed. The bat was later found in the back floorboard of the truck.

The detective then spoke with Brauch and he said he was asked by Thomas to help confront some people about something they took. Brauch agreed and grabbed a baseball bat he was going to use to protect Thomas because there were supposed to be four men at the house they were going to visit.

Brauch said that all he did was keep the two guys on the couch so they wouldn’t jump Thomas. Brauch also said that before they even got to the woman’s apartment they went to Boyer’s house to ask for his help confronting the woman. Boyer agreed to go with them and drove himself. Brauch also denied that they forced the woman into the truck.

Later the same day Boyer was found and brought to the police department where he stated he did not want to talk with the detective and that he wanted a lawyer.

All three men are being held in the St. Francois County Jail. Each has a bond set at $350,000 cash only.

Thomas has previous convictions for tampering with a motor vehicle and drugs. 

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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