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Colorado authorities arrest men wanted in Utah kidnapping

Colorado authorities arrest men wanted in Utah kidnapping

(Ssalt Lake County Sheriff's Office)


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SOUTH SALT LAKE — Police in Colorado have arrested two men accused of keeping a 70-year-old man in his South Salt Lake home against his will for a prolonged period in 2012.

Aaron Gibbs, 39, and Loran Sant, 41, were booked into the San Miguel County Jail in southwest Colorado on April 23 and are awaiting extradition to Utah.

Lindsey Kerr, 34, was with Gibbs and Sant and was arrested for investigation of being an accessory to a crime, making a false report to police and obstructing a police officer.

The two men were located near Egnar, an unincorporated area of San Miguel County. Gibbs and Sant were living near Egnar for some time in a remote area, said San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters.

"If we weren't called there, we never would have gone by, it's too remote," Masters told KSL News.

Deputies from both agencies were called to the men's mobile home — a large, white hand-painted box truck — to execute the Utah warrants. The men also had a trailer with them filled with peculiar items, according to Masters, such as high-end beds and a headstone that had been reported stolen in the area.

"It just seems unusual stuff for a person to have," he said.

Gibbs and Sant were known to police but were never arrested during their time living near Egnar, Masters said. The two men reportedly told others in the area they were on a "spiritual retreat." They operated a gift and art shop in Dove Creek, another nearby town of about 700 people, he said.

A person living near the Utah-Colorado border first tipped off deputies when they recognized Gibbs and Sant from a Utah news program they were watching earlier this month.

Gibbs is charged with kidnapping and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, both second-degree felonies, and two counts of forgery, a third-degree felony, in the Utah case. Sant is charged with kidnapping and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, second-degree felonies.

Gibbs was homeless in mid-2012 when he convinced a 70-year-old man living in South Salt Lake to take him in, according to charging documents.

Gibbs allegedly exerted control over the man by moving in three of his friends, including Sant, against the man's will. The two men are accused of keeping the man in his room for up to a day at a time without food and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of possessions from him over the course of several months ending in November 2012.

The victim reportedly moved onto the street because he feared for his life in light of alleged death threats from Gibbs and Sant. He had Parkinson's disease, but was mentally capable, according to South Salt Lake Police Sgt. Gary Keller.

The men were indicted and warrants for their arrest were issued in early April, nearly two years after South Salt Lake police submitted the case to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office for review.

According to police, the suspects and the alleged victim had given conflicting accounts about whether he had signed over his possessions to Gibbs and Sant in exchange for them working as his live-in personal assistants.

Family members eventually arranged for the victim to move to a retirement home out of state. He lost nearly everything he owned to Gibbs and Sant, Keller said.

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Ben Lockhart

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