Denia I. Avila and four other Central Ohioans charged in conspiracy to kidnap

Denia I. Avila and four other Central Ohioans charged in conspiracy to kidnap Hilliard couple, impersonate law enforcement

(STL.News) – A federal grand jury has indicted a victim’s ex-girlfriend and four of her associates for conspiring and attempting to kidnap her ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend. The indictment was filed today.

Denia I. Avila, 37, of Columbus, and co-conspirators allegedly impersonated federal law enforcement officers and used a Taser while attempting to kidnap the victims.

The four others charged include, Jessica E. Wise, 38, of Columbus; Ellis L. Ray, II, 19, of Canal Winchester; Michael K. Ousley, 43, of Columbus; and Jerry E. McCallister, Jr, 27, of Columbus.

According to court documents, the co-conspirators attempted to kidnap the two individuals on Nov. 25, 2019, and Dec. 4, 2019, near the victims’ residence in Hilliard.

An affidavit details that during the first attempt, two males wearing all black with black face masks approached the victims as they entered a vehicle around 5:30am. They Tased the male victim’s neck and attempted to remove him from his vehicle. The female victim screamed and the male victim was able to push the attacker back, causing both men to flee on foot.

In the second incident, also before 5:30 a.m., the female victim attempted to leave their residence in the male’s vehicle but was blocked in by the suspect’s vehicle.

It is alleged that two males – wearing black jackets with “Police” jacket patches and holding a photograph of the male victim – approached the truck yelling “Police, open the door.” They attempted to open the truck door, but the victim began honking her horn and drove over a curb to escape the area.

Detectives discovered two videos in which Avila and Wise discuss plans for kidnapping and injuring the victims. A Taser and leg shackles are shown in the videos. Throughout the videos, the two women allegedly discuss disposing of the victims’ vehicles, locking the male victim in a hotel room, leaving the female victim beaten in a remote location, and various ways to evade law enforcement.

In the videos, Avila allegedly states she knows the victims would be too fearful to go to the authorities because she helped smuggle the male victim back into the United States after he was deported, and therefore she knew he was here illegally.

Receipts show the co-conspirators also purchased “Immigration” patches. Avila’s work cell phone had a screenshot on “how ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) makes arrests” and searches including “ICE Federal Agent Halloween Costume.”

“In what some might think is a plot line for a movie, these individuals allegedly devised an elaborate scheme involving the impersonation of federal law enforcement agents to kidnap someone,” said Vance Callender, HSI special agent in charge for Michigan and Ohio.

“Not only did the alleged perpetrators try and fail to kidnap the victim, they tried a second time and failed,” said Keith Barwick, ICE Office of Professional Responsibility special agent in charge. “The suspects left a wide trail of evidence that agents and detectives were able to collect, follow, and use to arrest multiple coconspirators.”

The five defendants were charged by criminal complaint on July 15.

Conspiracy to commit kidnapping is a federal crime punishable by up to life in prison. Attempted kidnapping is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Conspiring to impersonate an Officer of the United States carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Vance Callender, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Keith Barwick, Special Agent in Charge, ICE Office of Professional Responsibility; and Hilliard Division of Police Chief Robert Fisher announced the charges. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility also assisted in the case.

“The outcome of this case could have been very tragic without the exhaustive initial investigation by our detectives, and the ongoing and thorough collaboration with federal agencies,” said Hilliard Chief of Police Robert Fisher. “Hilliard citizens can feel reassured knowing the individuals who put this disturbing plan in place will be held accountable for their actions.”

Assistant United States Attorney Jessica W. Knight and Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher N. St. Pierre are representing the United States in this case.

An indictment merely contains allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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