Idaho Falls Woman Kidnapped, Tortured Over Casino Payout Dispute, Court Hears
Posted on: June 16, 2021, 05:31h.
Last updated on: June 18, 2021, 03:39h.
An Idaho Falls woman kidnapped, tortured, and left for dead was targeted over a dispute about casino winnings, prosecutors believe. They also think at least one of the attackers was duped into committing the crime.
On Tuesday, Maddeline Ovard, 30, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for her role in the brutal attack, the Post Register reports.
Ovard took a plea deal and has agreed to testify against her co-conspirators, some of whom are unknown.
The 33-year-old victim was seized from a friend’s house in March 2021 by three women in masks. Despite their efforts at concealment, she recognized two. According to the victim, they were Ovard and 37-year-old Tabatha McKnight.
‘Lucky to be Alive’
The victim, who has been named in court filings, told police Ovard beat her with a socket wrench and threatened to “slice her throat,” while McKnight promised to shoot her during the four-hour attack. Her head was shaved, and the attackers attempted to fire a taser at her neck, but it malfunctioned.
The woman was driven to Wolverine Canyon, 15 miles south of the city, where she was stripped except for a sweater, a towel, and a blindfold. She had suffered multiple skull fractures and was left for dead.
District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. said Tuesday the victim was lucky to be alive.
Police began looking for her at 5 am the next morning after a man called 911 to report he had been sent a video showing part of the attack via Facebook Messenger.
Mystery Ringleader May be Dead
Bonneville County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Randall Spencer said he believed Ovard was not the ringleader, despite the active role she played in the attack. He said she was manipulated into it by other suspects who told her the victim was in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend.
According to Spencer, the real reason for the kidnap was because an unidentified man had won $3,000 at an unnamed Idaho casino. He had asked the victim to collect the winnings because he had been banned from the venue for cheating. Spencer said the victim claimed the money, but failed to return it.
The prosecutor told the court that Ovard and McKnight had briefly taken the victim to the home of a man named Anthony Hoff, who has since died from a drug overdose.
To date, Ovard and McKnight are the only individuals to be charged with the crime. The third woman has not been identified in court filings.
Watkins noted the case was like “something from Breaking Bad.”