ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Georgia man is accused of killing a neighbor, stealing his car and later kidnapping a Missouri woman before he was finally apprehended in Kansas, authorities said Monday.
Prosecutors in Georgia have charged John Czarnecki, 53, with murder in the death of Abraham Rudolph Jacobs, 56, along with armed robbery. Czarnecki and Christopher Smith, 43, of Cave Springs, Georgia, are charged with kidnapping, robbery and armed criminal action in Missouri. Both also face federal charges stemming from the kidnapping. They are jailed in Kansas on $1 million bond, but Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Chris Limbaugh said both men are expected to appear in federal court in Missouri on June 27.
The investigation began Thursday morning. A woman in her 40s had just stepped out of a Wal-Mart store in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, when a man put a knife to her side and forced her into her Jeep, police said.
One of the suspects drove the Jeep to a cornfield in Chaffee, Missouri, about 15 miles away, while another man followed in a Suzuki SUV. Police said the woman was robbed of a debit card and diamond ring before the men drove away in the SUV. She was unharmed.
The debit card was later used at a Missouri convenience store. Surveillance images showed the license plate indicating the SUV belonged to Jacobs.
A police report said officers went to Jacobs’ apartment in Chamblee, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, and found nothing. But they later checked Czarnecki’s nearby apartment and found Jacobs’ body buried amid debris in the kitchen area.
“I think there was some sort of altercation that escalated, and (Czarnecki) took his car,” Chamblee police Capt. Ernesto Ford said.
Police do not believe Smith was involved in the killing, but was picked up by Czarnecki along the route. It wasn’t clear how or why they ended up in Missouri.
Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Steve LaRow confirmed that the men were arrested by the patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service Friday night in Grinnell, a small town in western Kansas. LaRow declined to say what led police to the suspects or give any details about the arrest. Phone messages seeking comment from the Marshals Service were not returned.