A Kentucky man has been charged with shaking down a Tennessee couple for ransom for their adult daughter, sending terrifying threats and a “proof of life” photo of the woman gagged.
“One more lie she’s dead,” Bryan Conley, 36, allegedly texted the woman’s parents during the ordeal, which spanned more than 24 hours.
Fortunately, Conley does not appear to be a master criminal, and he left a trail of clues for the FBI.
He was charged with making threats across state lines, but not with kidnapping. A criminal complaint does not say how, or if, the woman was abducted.
The frightening drama unfolded Tuesday when the woman’s mother received a call saying her daughter had been kidnapped and would be released for $20,000 ransom.
The family called the Brentwood Police Department at 1:45 p.m. and law enforcement began monitoring the situation, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.
In a scene that seems ripped from a TV drama, the caller then told the parents to start driving toward Toledo, Ohio, and wait there for another call.
He sent text messages from the woman’s phone, each more chilling than the last:
“You have ten minutes to be on road or I sell her ass.”
“You listen or I send you pic of her body.”
“In one hour they will start rapeing her ass.”
The mother asked to speak to her daughter, who was not identified, but Conley would not put her on the phone, authorities said. Instead, he sent a photo of her inside a car “with what appeared to be binding material around her mouth,” the complaint said.
The family negotiated the ransom down to $400 and jewelry and agreed to start driving to drop it off.
By then, authorities had some idea of who was sending the messages. Early Tuesday morning, someone had attempted to log into the daughter’s bank account from a phone number registered to Conley’s wife in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Investigators did some digging and discovered that the wife owned a gray 2014 Ford Taurus that matched the vehicle in the “proof of life” photo, according to court documents.
Investigators obtained ping orders for the wife’s phone and discovered that it was in close proximity to the daughter’s phone. And when the kidnapper sent the text that read “One more lie she’s dead” at 2:25 p.m. on Wednesday, authorities traced the location to Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
An hour later, the ransom payment was left behind a Dumpster at the Flying J Travel Center in Oak Grove, Kentucky—and agents were watching when Conley allegedly retrieved it about 90 minutes later.
They tailed him to a gas station, where he was arrested. The daughter was also found in the Ford Taurus, the complaint said.
The woman’s mother declined to comment to The Daily Beast.