SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Six southwest Missouri residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a kidnapping conspiracy that resulted in the death of the victim.
The following individuals were charged in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Thursday, July 29th:
* Freddie Lewis Tilton, also known as “Ol’ Boy,” 48, of Joplin, Mo.
* Carla Jo Ward, 47, of Joplin, Mo.
* Amy Kay Thomas, 38, of Webb City, Mo.
* James B. Gibson, 39, of Neosho, Mo.
* Lawrence William Vaughan, also known as “Scary Larry,” 49, of Newton County, Mo.
* Russell Eugene Hurtt, also known as “Uncle,” 49, of Greenwood, Mo.
The federal indictment alleges that each of the six defendants participated in a conspiracy to kidnap the victim, Michael James Hall in July 2020.
According to the indictment, Ward picked up Hall and took him to Vaughan’s residence where Tilton, Thomas, and Gibson arrived the morning of July 15th. They bound Hall’s hands with handcuffs and duct taped his mouth and other parts of his body. With Vaughan and Ward present, Thomas allegedly cut Hall repeatedly with a knife and Gibson beat him with a club until Tilton fatally shot Hall in the head. They later wrapped the victim’s body in plastic wrap and transported him to Hurtt’s property.
Authorities executed a search warrant at Hurtt’s property on July 28th, 2020, with information that a body was located on the premises. As officers attempted to contact occupants on the property, according to the indictment, Tilton fired multiple shots from the inside the building at officers. Tilton was later apprehended while Hall’s body was eventually located on the grounds.
The identity of the victim was not known by law enforcement until forensics showed a dental records match between the body and missing man, Michael James Hall. Hall had been missing since July 17th, 2020, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s website.
The six defendants face conspiracy charges as well as one count of kidnapping resulting in death, and one count of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, resulting in murder.
Tilton was also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm on July 28th. Tilton was allegedly in possession of three pistols, two .22-caliber rifles, and two 12-guage shotguns.
The charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the FBI, the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Neosho, Mo., Police Department, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, and the Cherokee County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department.