Attempted kidnapping case heads to Grand Jury

John B. Arnold, Jr.
By: 
RYAN PHILLIPS
SDN Editor

A Grand Jury will now hear the case of a Starkville man facing two counts of attempted kidnapping after trying to check out a student from a local school without the parent’s permission.

The preliminary hearing for 45-year-old John B. Arnold, Jr. was held in Starkville Municipal Court on Tuesday, with four witnesses called to the stand.

Judge Marty Haug presided over the hearing and after the witness testimony, found probable cause to send the case on to grand jury.

WITNESS TESTIMONY

During the testimony, the mother of the child, who is a former girlfriend of Arnold’s, claimed she filed the attempted kidnapping charges after hearing Arnold had gone to both Starkville Academy and Sudduth Elementary School on Feb. 16 to try and check out her son.

The former girlfriend, who the Starkville Daily News has chosen not to name, claimed she knew Arnold for roughly 12 years. She said they had a brief romantic relationship before an amicable break up.

She claimed the last time she spoke to Arnold, though, his behavior had become erratic and he “seemed paranoid.”

Starkville Police Detective John Michael Lay said on Feb. 16, Arnold initially went to Starkville Academy and asked school officials if there would be a school play that day, but was informed the child was not a student at the school.

The child’s mother was then informed of Arnold’s attempt by school officials, which she recounted to the court, saying “It scared me.”

Lay then claims Arnold left the office to go back to his truck, but then started to walk around the campus at Starkville Academy before being asked to leave.

The investigator continued, saying Arnold went to Sudduth Elementary School, where he approached the school computer used specifically for visitors to check students out or check in late students.

The school’s security officer also claimed Arnold first attempted to use the computer, left the office briefly, then came back and asked for assistance, claiming to be the child’s uncle.

School officials informed Arnold he could not check the child out because he was not mentioned in the necessary paperwork. The child’s mother had also notified the school after being told about Arnold visiting Starkville Academy, and school officials at Sudduth refused him access to the child.

The school’s security officer said Arnold was escorted out by two school officers and “did not give any problems.”

Lay echoed the school’s safety protocols, claiming the procedures in place thwarted a potential kidnapping.

“Those preventative measures did their job to protect that child,” Lay said from the witness stand.

When cross-examined by Arnold’s attorney Charles Yoste about why the attempted kidnapping charges were brought against Arnold, Lay also mentioned Arnold had called a work associate and asked “odd” questions about her juvenile brother.

Lay then claims Arnold told the work associate he was going to pick his former girlfriend’s child up from school.

During the cross examination of the investigator, Yoste argued that Arnold could have just been visiting to “see the child,” and not check the child out.

However, Lay claimed deceit concerning Arnold’s actions, saying it was not one individual incident, but “the totality of the circumstances,” that led to the charges.

Lay elaborated, saying Arnold attempted to mislead school officials at Starkville Academy when inquiring about a school play and telling officials at Sudduth and Starkville Academy that he was the child’s uncle.

After being turned away from Sudduth Elementary, witnesses claim Arnold went to the home of his former girlfriend’s parents, where he briefly spoke with her stepfather before Oktibbeha County deputies responded and Arnold left the property.

The witness said Arnold had come to his former girlfriend’s parent’s home to tell them about a home on South Montgomery that he believed she would be interested in buying.

At the time, the former girlfriend’s stepfather claims he was only aware of Arnold’s attempt to check the child out at Starkville Academy, to which he claims he told Arnold to “not do that again.”

He then claimed Arnold left without issue after deputies responded to the home.

OTHER CHARGES

Apart from the attempted kidnapping charges, Arnold also faces numerous other charges after the initial incident that led to the attempted kidnapping charges.

While being charged with the second count of attempted kidnapping, Arnold was also charged with two counts of contempt, which came after Arnold allegedly removed his court-mandated electronic ankle monitor on Feb. 23.

This resulted in a large police manhunt and Arnold was apprehended the same day by Oktibbeha County deputies on Greenfield Street near Sudduth Elementary.

A municipal judge then revoked Arnold’s bond, but he would then bring about other charges in the following days.

On the afternoon of Feb. 27, Arnold is accused of attempting to escape while in the Oktibbeha County Jail’s exercise yard. He then assaulted the corrections officer who tried to subdue him.

Later that evening, Arnold tried to escape through a vent in his cell’s roof while being held in isolated confinement. He was later transferred to the high risk section of the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center.

Arnold was then formally charged with attempting to escape and simple assault on an officer, which brings his total bond amount to $30 million.

However, the bond on the attempting kidnapping charges has been revoked.

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