UPDATED 7:30 p.m. — A man sought as part of a kidnapping conspiracy that left two alleged kidnappers drowned in Port Allen is in custody.
Lawrence Michael Handley is in custody on charges of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit attempted second-degree kidnapping and violation of a protective order. According to the Lafayette Police Department, Handley was apprehended Friday afternoon around 4 o’clock at a hotel in Slidell without incident.
The arrest came after an extensive manhunt involving the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office, along with the East, Central and Western Division of U.S. Marshal’s Task Force Division. The investigation remains on going.
Handley is the cofounder of Townsend Treatment Centers, a business he helped start in 2007 in Lafayette. He sold the company in 2015 for an estimated $21 million.
The chain of events that led to the men’s bodies being recovered in Port Allen started in Lafayette a day earlier. According to the initial incident report filed with the Lafayette Police Department, two black men entered a residence in the 300 block of Founders Street around 2:45 Sunday afternoon where the victim, another person and a juvenile were staying. The victim and the other person were handcuffed, and the victim had a black bag placed over their head, according to the report. The victim was then placed in a white SUV and taken away, with the other person and the juvenile left at the house.
Later that afternoon, the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a white van travelling on the shoulder of Interstate 10 East near the Lobdell exit after a tractor-trailer had overturned, shutting down traffic flow.
According to West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Mike Cazes, his office became involved in the case when the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office contacted his office.
“It started off with the Iberville asked for assistance,” Cazes said. “They were going down interstate, then they turned onto La. 1 while we were following them and got stuck in a field. The two men ran into the woods. When deputies investigated, they found the woman inside the vehicle.”
Cazes said his office then requested tracking dogs from the Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility to find the men.
“We requested Hunt Correctional’s bloodhounds,” Cazes said.
The two men ran through woods to a pipe yard on the Intracoastal Canal where they were caught on a video surveillance camera. As the dogs closed in, the men went into the canal.
According to the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the two bodies pulled from the canal Monday afternoon are those of Sylvester Henry Bracey, 27, and Arsenio Montrell Haynes, 27, both of Jackson, Miss. The West Baton Rouge Cororoner’s report lists the cause of death for both men as asphyxiation by drowning.
Their bodies were recovered from the canal Monday afternoon, one around 3 p.m., the other around 6:40 p.m.