3 Americans Can Be Extradited From Scotland to Face Charges in Kidnapping Plot: Court

An appeals court in Scotland ruled Friday that three Americans who fled to the country while avoiding charges of conspiracy to commit several kidnappings and murders have no legal right to remain in the country and avoid being extradited to the U.S. for trial.

Valerie Hayes, 41, Gary Reburn, 58, and Jennifer Amnott, 36, attempted in July 2019 to kidnap five children from a Mennonite community in Virginia and planned to murder the parents of the children before their plan failed and the three fled to Scotland, prosecutors said Monday.

"I am grateful to see the extradition process proceeding," U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said in a news release. "This community was shocked when these events occurred and the underlying plot was uncovered. Although we expect further appeals, the Department of Justice will never stop working to bring those charged back to the United States to face justice."

Jennifer Amnott and her husband, Frank Jesse Amnott, allegedly met and became friends with Hayes, who frequently claimed to the couple and others that she worked for the government in the intelligence field, in 2014, the release states.

In July 2018 while living in Florida, the Amnotts were contacted by Hayes, living in Maryland with Reburn, her boyfriend at the time. Hayes allegedly told the couple three of her children had been kidnapped by two separate Mennonite families in Dayton, Virginia and she wanted to get them back with the Amnotts' help along with two other children.

Scotland Virginia Kidnapping Plot Murder
A judges gavel rests on top of a desk February 3, 2009 in Miami, Florida. A judge in Scotland denied the appeal of three Americans seeking to prevent their extradition on conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder charges. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Prosecutors said none of the children that were targets of the kidnapping plot are related to any of the defendants, according to The Associated Press.

Authorities said that Hayes knew the couple wanted to have children, and allegedly offered to let Jennifer Amnott keep one of the children if they helped carry out the plan to retrieve the children.

Three of the four agreed to travel from Maryland to Virginia, while Jennifer Amnott stayed in Maryland watching Hayes' other children. The plan was to break into the homes of the two families, contain the parents in the basement, and once the children were taken from the house, kill the parents so the crime had no witnesses, authorities said.

The first house was entered and Frank Amnott was allegedly in the basement holding the father of two of the children at gunpoint while the mother of the family escaped and called the police on a wireless phone while hiding in a cornfield, the press release states.

When the police arrived, Hayes and Reburn allegedly fled while Frank Amnott was taken into custody without incident. He later pleaded guilty in December 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, one count of conspiracy to kill witnesses, and a firearms charge, authorities said.

Hayes, Reburn, and Jennifer Amnott fled in the following weeks to Scotland where they were later arrested and have since been fighting their extradition through Scotland's legal system. The three alleged that the potential life sentence they faced in the U.S. was "grossly disproportionate" for charges that did not include murder and violated the European Convention on Human Rights, according to BBC News.

Scotland's Lord Justice General, head of the High Court of Justiciary, ruled Friday that the "extreme gravity" of the charges in addition to the fact that the three could obtain a release from prison through other legal means like clemency meant their extradition to the U.S. should not be blocked, BBC News reported.