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Jury rejects bizarre defense from mall kidnapper who took a woman and her son

Everett A. Simpson kidnapped a random woman and her child, authorities said. (Image: Vermont State Police via AP, File)

Everett A. Simpson kidnapped a random woman and her child, authorities said. (Image: Vermont State Police via AP, File)

A man accused of kidnapping a woman and her son in 2019 represented himself at trial, arguing that the mother had actually joined him voluntarily on his purported multi-state search for his estranged wife — but jurors weren’t buying it and convicted the man on all charges.

Everett A. Simpson, 45, was charged with two counts of federal kidnapping and two counts of interstate transportation of stolen vehicles for allegedly forcing his way into a woman’s car as her son sat in the back seat and driving to multiple locations with them, including a hotel where he sexually assaulted her. He was convicted on Tuesday and now faces a statutory minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum life sentence.

Federal authorities said Simpson had fled the Valley Vista treatment center in Bradford, Vermont, on Jan. 4, 2019, and stole a commercial van in Newbury, around 20 miles north. He later abandoned that van in a parking lot in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Jan. 5, according to the Justice Department. He kidnapped the young woman and her four-year-old child from the parking lot of the Mall of New Hampshire soon thereafter, authorities said.

Simpson was staying at the addiction treatment facility while out on $3,000 bail for charges relating to a car chase, according to local news website VTDigger.

“Simpson held the woman and her child against their will, driving from New Hampshire into Vermont, where Simpson attempted to locate his estranged wife,” the Justice Department said in a press release announcing Simpson’s conviction. “After abandoning the effort to find his wife, Simpson continued the kidnapping, now seeking to sexually assault the young woman.”

Simpson did just that, prosecutors said, allegedly assaulting the woman in both her car and at a hotel in White River Junction, where he allegedly forced the woman to rent a room. He later fled the hotel in the woman’s car and was eventually arrested after two high-speed pursuits in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, “during the second of which he was driving a third vehicle he had stolen.”

Authorities said that Simpson raped the woman in front of her child at the hotel room.

In his closing argument, the defendant said he could admit to stealing the vehicles, but he denied the kidnapping charges, according to the VTDigger report. He asserted the woman had occasion to escape and get help, but she did not.

The woman, who faced cross-examination by Simpson during trial, reportedly testified that she feared escaping because her child remained in the back seat of the vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint, she told investigators that Simpson elbowed his way into her vehicle, pushing her into the passenger seat.

“C.R. stated that the male kept [her child] in the vehicle with him to prevent C.R. from calling the police for help,” authorities said.

Records from related 911 calls in Thetford, Vermont, showed that a young woman was screaming for help and trying to escape from the passenger side of the vehicle, the complaint stated. It appeared that the driver, a man, was trying to hold her down.

At one point, Simpson said he had been on the run for three days after after escaping “rehab,” the woman told authorities. Asserting that he heard that his wife cheated on him, he said said he was looking for her, according to documents.

“The male said he was angry with his wife, and C.R. felt that he was trying to find his wife so that he could hurt her,” police said.

The woman said Simpson took her phone and downloaded a “text free” app so he could send messages from it without being traced. He allegedly said he was texting his wife to determine her whereabouts.

“Is this [redacted], I am with your husband, and he is bleeding,” said one of the texts sent from the victim’s phone, according to the complaint.

Simpson kept the woman’s cellphone the entire time he was with her in order to keep her from calling help, according to court documents. He also took her driver’s license, wrote down her address, and told her he knew where she lived and that if she contacted cops, he would find her and kill her.

“C.R. advised that, when the male left, he told her not to leave the room or contact the police,” authorities wrote. “C.R. advised that she waited about 20 minutes to make sure that he was gone. Officers noted that C.R. was trembling while she was speaking with them, was looking up and down the hallway, and appeared to be scared.” Cops also noted that the child was terrified as well.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Lasher called the Simpson’s argument preposterous and unsubstantiated, according to VTDigger. Simpson targeted a “vulnerable woman” for “exploitation and to steal a car.” The woman’s “fear was real and palpable.”

The judge did not immediately schedule sentencing. The related state case against Simpson for rape is ongoing.

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