Drug Investigation Prompted by Abduction and Beating

Drug Investigation Prompted by Abduction and Beating

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The alleged kidnapping and severe beating of a 17-year-old West Point youth has prompted a drug investigation.

Iron County sheriff's Sgt. Jody Edwards said investigators believe the people who allegedly beat the youth in Clearfield, drove him to the Cedar City area and beat him some more may have been transporting narcotics, possibly methamphetamine and Ecstasy, on a similar route.

"I wouldn't call it a large ring, but a small ring among this group of friends and associates," Edwards said.

Two Clearfield men and an Enoch woman being sought in the alleged abduction were arrested last week in Texas. Gary J. Hunt, 22, Tiffany Nichole Nelson, 20, and Joseph Nicholas Godfrey, 18, are being held at the El Paso County Jail pending extradition proceedings. Shawn Lewis Douglas, 22, Cedar City, was arrested earlier in Utah. Iron County sheriff's officers said he admitted his part in Wednesday's incident and provided valuable information.

Clearfield police said last week that West Point youth said he was with three others at a mobile home in Clearfield Wednesday. He said methamphetamine was being used. He said the others began to beat on him, and the beating continued off and on for several hours.

He said his arms and legs were bound and he was thrown in the back of a car and driven four hours to Cedar City.

He told Iron County officers that the car stopped at the Three Peaks recreation area near Cedar City.

He said he was kicked in the head and body and rocks were thrown in his face. He also told officers that Nelson held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him.

Clearfield and Iron County authorities said the assailants claimed the youth owed $180 to Nelson for utilities and rent when they lived together in Layton. Edwards said they also claimed he had stolen drugs from them.

Edwards said Iron County prosecutors plan to charge the suspects with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault.

Deputy Davis County Attorney Steve Major said Monday he does not know what charges his office may file.

The suspected could by charged by one or both counties.

Edwards said he does not believe it would be double jeopardy to have both counties file charges because what happened was not "one single criminal episode, but several episodes over a long period of time."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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