A Danville man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to charges he received after carjacking a vehicle in Kansas City, Mo. and force its owner to accompany him as he drove across the state, according to the U.S Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Tammy Dickinson.
Robert C. Caldwell, 26, pleaded guilty to participating in a kidnapping conspiracy, one count of kidnapping, one count of carjacking, one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Caldwell and an unidentified juvenile waited outside the home of a 67- year-old Kansas City man at about 5:30 a.m. on January 22, 2015. They kidnapped the victim at gunpoint as he left his home. They made him turn over his keys, wallet and cash.
Dickinson says that the victim was beaten by Caldwell and his accomplice and was struck in the head with a Cobra .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
According to a press released from Dickinson, the victim told law enforcement officers that he was covered with a blanket most of the time and was unable to see the locations where the carjackers attempted to use his debit card. He says he couldn’t remember his PIN number so they weren’t able to get cash, which angered Caldwell and his accomplice.
Caldwell pretended to be on the phone with another accomplice who was holding his wife hostage, which was not true. At one point, they informed the victim that they had killed his wife, which was not true.
According to court documents, they continued to drive and stopped at a drive-through restaurant, where one of the men sat next to the victim and shoved the barrel of the gun into his mouth, breaking his teeth, and told him that he would kill him if he moved.
Dickinson says that after getting food, they tied his hands together with a boot strap and had him lying in the floor with a blanket over his face so he couldn’t see. They continued driving and made several stops for purchases with the victim’s credit and debit cards.
Authorities were able to track the victim’s credit and debit cards as the kidnappers used them along I-70 eastbound.
They were also able to find surveillance photos and videos from some locations.
Court documents say that the kidnappers stopped at a rest stop and one of the kidnappers told the other to watch the victim as he slept.
The victim then untied his hands and retrieved a homemade 45-pound weight from under the seat of the van. He hit both kidnappers in the head and attempted to make an escape but was unsuccessful.
He was then beaten heavily by both men, according to Dickinson.
As they began to drive again, the victim pretended to be knocked out. The driver of the van sat the gun on the floorboard so he could use both hands to steer the vehicle. That is when the victim grabbed the handgun and pointed it at his kidnappers. He demanded they pull over. The victim pulled the trigger of the loaded gun when a kidnapper moved toward him. It failed to fire.
The kidnappers fled the vehicle with the keys.
The victim ran from the vehicle and ran down a street in Jennings, Mo. He saw the two carjackers were in the vehicle and driving in his direction.
Dickinson says the victim his behind houses until the carjackers drove away, then he called police.
The stolen van was found on January 23, 2015 in Nelson County, after being in an accident.
Caldwell was arrested on January 27 after a pursuit by KSP and the Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Department.
Caldwell is subject to a sentence of up to life in federal prison without parole.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 30, 2016.