A 19 year old woman, charged with three others in an aggravated kidnapping last fall, pleaded guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday.
Judge David Patterson presided.
Savanah Arnold received a six year sentence to serve for the aggravated kidnapping plus a two year sentence on a separate charge of delivery of a schedule III drug (Suboxone Strips). The two terms are to run consecutively for a total of eight years to serve at 30% before parole eligibility as a standard range one offender. Other charges against her are to be dismissed but she is to pay a $2,000 drug fine. Arnold was given jail credit of eighty five days.
Arnold and three others were named in Grand Jury sealed indictments in December, 2013 for allegedly kidnapping and raping a woman they thought stole money and Suboxone strips from them in October. The cases against her co-defendants, Abigail Vogel and Johnny Devault are still pending in court. The fourth defendant, another woman, has not been arrested. Last month, Arnold was among sixty four persons named in sealed indictments by the Grand Jury as a result of a three month undercover drug investigation by the Sheriff's Department.
In the aggravated kidnapping case, Smithville Police said the four defendants held the victim against her will at Arnold's home on October 24. Arnold and the other woman then allegedly strip searched the victim, penetrated her body cavity looking for the money or drugs, and stole her clothes. The next day, October 25, Arnold allegedly dressed in the victim's clothes, went to a local industry where the victim was employed and tried unsuccessfully to pick up the victim's paycheck.
The victim came to the police department the day after the assault, October 25 to report the kidnapping, rape, and theft.
Lieutenant Matt Holmes related the story to WJLE on Wednesday, December 18 at the police department. "The victim said that on October 24, she went to Savanah Arnold's house to watch the kids of some friends. While there, Arnold, Vogel, Devault, and the other woman showed up allegedly intoxicated on drugs and accused her of stealing from Arnold $575 and 60 suboxone strips. The victim denied it".
According to Lieutenant Holmes, Arnold and the other woman took the victim to a back room and strip searched her. "One of the suspects placed a trash bag on her hand and penetrated the victim, searching for the money or drugs. She did not find anything. The victim resisted the assault and asked if she could leave. They refused to let her leave and took her cell phone so she couldn't call anyone. Johnny Devault allegedly threatened to assault the victim if she continued to resist. They stole the victim's clothes, placed her in a car half dressed, drove off and then dumped her out on the side of the road," he said.
The next day, October 25 Arnold dressed in the victim's clothes and went to the victim's place of employment. She entered the industry, walked up to the counter wearing the victim's ID and asked for her paycheck, representing herself as the victim. An industry official noticed that Arnold was not the victim and asked why she was there. Arnold then changed her story stating falsely that she was there to pick up the paycheck for the victim who was in a Nashville hospital. When the industry official told her the victim would have to come and get the check herself, Arnold left. The industry later received a call from a female, falsely identifying herself as the victim, saying it was okay for them to give her paycheck to whoever came to pick it up.
Industry officials alerted Smithville Police to a possible identity theft. Lieutenant Holmes and Officer James Cornelius responded to the call. Arnold was taken into custody at the industry and charged with identify theft.