TERRE HAUTE —
Plea agreements have been filed in the federal case against two people who have admitted to kidnapping a 4-year-old Terre Haute boy last year.
Nicholas Runyon, 25, and April D. Bell, 29, both of Terre Haute, have both signed plea agreements that are now under consideration in U.S. District Court.
The plea agreement for Runyon calls for a prison term of not less than 20 years followed by supervised release for life.
The plea agreement for Bell calls for a prison term of 14 to 20 years, followed by supervised release for life.
No future court dates have been set for consideration of the plea agreements by a judge. The timeline for a hearing is usually within 60 to 90 days, depending on the court’s calendar.
The couple was arrested in Pikeville, Ky., on July 28, 2011, after allegedly abducting the child more than 48 hours previously. They were indicted in federal court three months later on charges of kidnapping the child, who Runyon knew from a prior relationship with the child’s mother.
U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett told the Tribune-Star on Tuesday that the recent signing of the plea agreements by both defendants is encouraging.
“This case seems to be moving quickly toward a resolution,” Hogsett said, emphasizing that the plea agreements still must receive approval from the court.
“This is a step in the right direction of resolving these cases,” he said. “Though, we remain fully prepared to prove these cases beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury of their peers.”
Both cases were scheduled to go to trial late this month.
The alleged kidnapping occurred July 26, 2011, after police believe Runyon and Bell took the child under the false pretense of taking him to a birthday party for another child. Investigators allege that Bell and Runyon planned to abduct the child.
Police picked up the couple’s trail after a family member reported that a credit card and debit card had been taken by one of the suspects and was being used for unauthorized transactions in other states. Tracking those transactions led police across Indiana into Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eventually to Kentucky, where Bell and Runyon were located with the child at a motel.
Runyon and Bell were taken into custody after police located a white minivan matching the description of their vehicle in the parking lot of the Brookshire Inn in Pikeville, Ky. Police found the couple had changed their appearance. Runyon had dyed his hair red, Bell had dyed her hair black, and they had shaved the child’s hair.
The couple has been held in federal custody since their arrest.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.