I use to shop at his pet store all the time. He's such a nice man, I hope they find him soon.Authorities are searching for a 59-year-old businessman who disappeared early this morning outside of the Newton pet store he owns, police said.
Police discovered Muller’s eyeglasses and lunch in the store parking lot, where his vehicle was also parked and locked, Osborn said. Authorities are not sure if Muller was taken by force from the location, and are currently treating his disappearance as a missing-person case.
Muller was last seen wearing a hunter green sweatshirt, a baseball cap, jeans, sneakers and a flannel jacket, Osborn said. The businessman, who has blue eyes and thin gray hair, stands at 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 164 pounds.
Welcome to the world Bridget!
Cops: Muller escapes kidnappers, 3 arrested
By Abbott Koloff • Staff Writer • January 10, 2010
The owner of a Newton pet food store was kidnapped in front of his business on Friday morning but escaped his captors after their car became disabled in Missouri on Saturday morning, according to Newton Police.
Jeffrey Muller, 59, of Branchville, was safe and under police protection Saturday in Lake Ozark, Mo., and was expected to be escorted home by Sunday afternoon, said Newton Police Chief John Tomasula.
By Julie O'Connor/The Star-Ledger
January 09, 2010, 8:38PM
A Newton pet store owner was kidnapped early Friday morning by three men who Tasered him, bound his hands and feet and took him on a harrowing 24-hour road trip to Missouri at gunpoint, police said.
Jeffrey Muller gained his freedom only after a convenience store clerk dialed 911 when he saw Muller struggling with his captors. He was rescued by Missouri police early Saturday morning. Muller, 59, had managed to free his hands and run when two of the men went inside the store to look for car parts.
Muller told Newton police he did not know any of his captors, or why he was targeted. The three kidnappers, all from Missouri, now face assault, weapons and drug charges. Douglas Stangeland, 46, Andrew David Wadel, 21, and Lonnie Eugene Swarnes, 44, are being held in Miller County Jail in Missouri. They are also expected to be charged with kidnapping, and extradited to New Jersey.
weird that they would take him to all the way to Missouri...I hope we find out what their plan was....he's lucky to be alive for sure!
Missouri police rescue New Jersey kidnapping victim
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 ordeal started Friday morning when the suspects approached the pet store owner outside his business, J&G Discount Pet Foods.
"It's bizarre, the entire thing," Newton Police Chief John Tomasula said. "When he arrived at work early in the morning, they asked if he was Jeff Muller. When he said yes, they said, 'You're coming with us.' He said, 'No, I'm not,' and the struggle ensued."
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.
Well, this is an odd story.
Maybe the kidnappers got the wrong man?
They asked for him by name, they said they had his wife.
And then, thank God, he manages to escape.
God has a plan to help bring justice to the world -- and his plan is us.
Source: Founder, International
Kyron, HALEIGH, ADJI & Gabriel NEEDS PRAYERS NOW TO FIND THEM!. Zahra & Jonathan in heaven
Justice for Hailey!!!!
No Justice for Caylee Marie..........
I live in the area and know who this man is. I have shopped in his store. I do not know him well at all.
I must say that I am expecting "the other shoe to drop". I find it hard to believe that three men from Missouri targeted a local store owner for no reason. I do not believe he is a wealthy man or does a tremendous cash business that would make him an attractive robbery target.Why did they not rob him and leave him at the scene? Why did they drag him to Missouri? Why did they know his name and target him?
I don't believe for a second that there is no connection. I suspect that ultimately there will be some connection to gambling, drugs or another illegal activity. If not the abducted man himself, a family member. Thankfully the FBI will be involved. The local police are incapable of solving a crime more complex than littering
I live in Newton and I just can't understand any of this. This is a small town and stuff like this just does not happen. This man has had his store a very long time. He is a great guy. I can't wait to hear why this all happended to him.
and thanks for the local feedback....I have the same questions you do...I definitely went "hmmmm" when I read they took him from NJ to MO-- unharmed.
I am glad he's safe but just seems something is hinky...course, who knows - it might have been a case of "Dumb & Dumber" as the perps, KWIM? LOL
LAKE OZARK, MO. -- A cross country kidnapping that ended in Lake Ozark involved "extensive planning and coordination," according to New Jersey police.
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’s 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.
Stangeland, used to own the Tobacco Shack in Nevada, Mo. but no longer works there.
“He used to own the store but doesn’t any longer,” an employee said. “And hasn’t for more than five years.”
The employee didn’t have a comment when asked about Stangeland’s 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.
"Bumbling idiots" accused of kidnapping New Jersey man
Vernon County Sheriff Ron Peckman describes the three southwest Missouri men as "bumbling idiots."
New Jersey police say it began in Newton City, N.J. when Jeff Muller, 59, was approached by three suspects in the parking lot of his pet food store.
In a statement to police Muller says he was assaulted and threatened at gun point with bodily harm and harm to his family.
Twenty four hours and 1200 miles later, an employee at a convenience store in Lake Ozark, Missouri says surveillance cameras captured Muller being chased around the parking lot by three suspects.
Missouri men apparently abducted wrong NJ man
By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH
Three Missouri men charged with kidnapping a man in New Jersey and driving nearly 1,200 miles before he was rescued apparently abducted the wrong guy, authorities said Monday
Based on the investigation thus far, we believe this to be a case of mistaken identity," said Gregory Mueller, an assistant prosecutor in Sussex County, N.J., where the three men are charged.
Vernon County, Mo., Sheriff Ron Peckman described the three as "bumbling idiots."
The suspects allegedly approached pet store owner Jeff Muller, 59, of Newton, N.J., outside his business there Friday morning and asked if he was Jeff Muller, Newton Police Chief John Tomasula said. When Muller said "yes," they shot him with a stun gun and bound his hands and feet, authorities said.
Authorities would not say Monday why the men were looking for a Jeff Muller.
sounds like the 3 Stooges are gonna be busy w/ LE in 4 states after them.
Suspected Mastermind in Mistaken Kidnapping Case Charged
The Associated Press
January 13, 2010
KANSAS CITY, MO. - A western Missouri man has been accused in court documents of ordering a kidnapping in which the wrong New Jersey man was purportedly abducted and driven nearly 1,200 miles by three men wanting to join a motorcycle gang.
William Barger, 48, of Nevada, Mo., appeared Wednesday in Missouri's Vernon County Circuit Court on 11 charges.
Eight of them stem from a home invasion in November that allegedly precipitated the kidnapping Friday of 59-year-old pet store owner Jeffrey Muller outside his Newton, N.J., store. The other three stem from weapons violations and claims that he removed evidence from a Nevada, Mo., home before a search warrant was served this week.
Barger has not been charged in Friday's kidnapping and his possible involvement in it is under investigation, said Gregory Mueller, an assistant prosecutor in Sussex County, N.J., where the three other men faced first-degree kidnapping charges.
Investigators allege in the Vernon County probable cause statement that Barger ordered the three kidnapping suspects to break into a man's home in November. During the alleged home invasion, the homeowner was shot in the hand and questioned about "anyone by the name of Muller."
The victim, who lost three fingers in the shooting, said he had "some business dealing with a Jeffrey Muller about 10 years ago, and the last he knew Muller lived in New Jersey," according to the probable cause statement.
Prosecutors believe the kidnapping was a case of mistaken identity and that the men took the wrong Jeffrey Muller.