SIUE police: Kidnapping victim was 'set up' by a friend; 2 charged

News-DemocratApril 9, 2014 

— The student who was kidnapped and robbed last week outside his residence hall may have been set up by a friend, according to police at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

SIUE students Jabreel Watson, 18, and Shantel Rogers, 20, are charged with felony counts of aggravated kidnapping, armed robbery and burglary, police announced at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Police do not know the identity of a third suspect, a male. He is not in custody.

The victim received a phone call late on the evening of April 2 from Watson, who was an acquaintance and fellow student, according to SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll. Watson also resided in Prairie Hall, and asked the victim to pick him up in Glen Carbon, he said.

"He was targeted -- this was not a random act, he was set up," Schmoll said.

Schmoll said Watson was actually in the woods beside Prairie Hall with a bandanna over his face. He said they believe Watson grabbed the victim in the parking lot and blindfolded him, forcing him into a car at gunpoint. There were three people involved, he said: two men and a woman, who burglarized the victim's car, removing electronics such as phone chargers and an iPod.

Then they drove around town for about an hour and a half, keeping mostly to Edwardsville, Schmoll said. They asked the victim questions, but Schmoll would not say what those questions were, or what their motive was in targeting him.

Finally they went to an ATM on University Drive and Rogers used the victim's card to withdraw $140 in cash. They then drove him out to the edge of the campus and forced him out of the car at the model airplane field, which is a remote area of the campus usually deserted late at night.

Watson was seen on security cameras reentering Prairie Hall shortly thereafter, Schmoll said. Later, a search of Watson's room uncovered several items that had been stolen from the victim's car, he said.

The victim tried to walk back toward his residence hall, but a passing motorist stopped to help and the victim immediately reported his abduction to police, Schmoll said.

The victim, who was not injured, was blindfolded the entire time and was unaware that Watson was his abductor, Schmoll said. "That came out in our investigation," he said.

The car that was allegedly used in the attack belonged to Rogers and is still missing. It is a 2005 white four-door Toyota Camry with a sunroof and spoiler. It is registered in Illinois as P894117 and has tinted windows, but Schmoll said he believes the tint may have been peeled off in an effort to evade police attention.

Watson was arrested on Friday and Rogers was arrested Tuesday. The third person in the car remains unidentified.

SIUE spokesman Doug McIlhagga said Watson and Rogers are considered separated from the university on an interim basis, pending the outcome of their felony charges. Rogers also lived on campus at Evergreen Hall.

Madison County Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Vucich praised the work of SIUE Police in investigating the incident. "This is not the sort of thing they're used to handling, and they did it very well," Vucich said.

Both suspects are charged with one count of armed robbery, a Class X felony; two counts of aggravated kidnapping, a Class X felony; and one count of burglary, a Class 2 felony. They are being held in the Madison County Jail on bail of $250,000 each.

Schmoll said many students have come forward with useful information, and he is hopeful that cooperation will continue. Anyone with information about the incident or the identity of the third abductor is asked to call SIUE Police at 618-650-3324.

In addition, any student or staff member who feels the need for a safe escort can contact SIUE Police at the same number for assistance, he said.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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