Couple kidnapped man from Akron bar for ransom, police say

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AKRON, Ohio– A couple from Texas is behind bars, accused of kidnapping an Akron man and demanding a ransom. Police say a former girlfriend lured him to a bar, where the pair kidnapped him at gunpoint.

Nicole Gaither, 47, and her husband Ronnie Gaither, 50, are charged with abduction, kidnapping and aggravated robbery.

The Texas couple is accused of kidnapping a 46-year old Akron man and demanding money in exchange for releasing him.

“A common friend reached out to the victim and said ‘Hey, Nicole wants to meet you for some drinks, meet her at the bar.’ And he did, not thinking that there was anything to it,” said Akron Police Captain David Laughlin.

Akron police said Saturday evening, the man met Nicole Gaither at Debonnaire’s Ultra Lounge on South Arlington Street.

“Our victim had a relationship with Nicole about 12 years ago. She was coming in town to move her daughter to Texas, Nicole’s now living in Texas, previously from Akron, and the victim and Nicole had dated,” Laughlin said.

Investigators said around 1 a.m. Sunday, the victim was leaving the bar, when a man, who police identify as Ronnie Gaither, pulled out a handgun and kidnapped him. Six hours later, around 7 a.m., the victim’s brother received disturbing text messages from his phone.

“The brother was contacted, asking for money to meet then at a location on East Avenue, they had his brother, it was basically a ransom situation,” said Capt. Laughlin.

A couple hours later, the man’s mother called a representative from Onstar, who then called Akron police.

“Someone using my other son’s phone number called and told him that they had my son and they have my truck,” the mother is heard telling a dispatcher.

“We first had Nicole in custody. She was found driving the victim’s vehicle,” Laughlin said.

Detectives then went to a home on East Tuscarawas Avenue in Barberton, where they discovered Nicole’s husband and the victim.

“As they were entering the home, actually the suspect was guiding the victim out of the back of the residence… The suspect, at that point, I think decided to abandon his plan and he just took off on foot,” Laughlin said.

Ronnie Gaither was arrested.

Akron police said the couple took the victim to different locations, trying to get money, and after that failed, they demanded the ransom.

Investigators also said they are still trying to determine exactly when the couple came up with the plan and why they chose the victim.

More charges against the Gaithers are possible in Akron and Barberton.

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