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Wadel now facing charges in Vernon County

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Andrew Wadel, formerly of Rich Hill, is back in Vernon County to face several charges stemming from a November 2009 home invasion.

All of the charges are reportedly connected to the January 2010 kidnapping of New Jersey pet food dealer Jeffrey Muller, for which he was convicted in New Jersey.

On Monday, Wadel appeared with his public defender Joe Zuzul and waived his right to a preliminary hearing before Associate Circuit Judge Neal Quitno. Arraignment was set for April 24.

Wadel, 24, is charged with several felonies including one count of burglary, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with a firearm and four counts of armed criminal action, in connection with a November 2009 home invasion during which Charles Scammell was injured by a blast from a shotgun.

That case went unsolved until early January 2010, when the kidnapping of Muller went sour. Wadel, Lonnie Swarnes of Rich Hill and Douglas Stangeland of Nevada were driving Muller back to Missouri, when their car broke down near the Lake of the Ozarks, giving Muller a chance to escape and alert a convenience store attendant, who called the police.

The three men ended up in the Miller County jail, and that's when the investigation began in earnest and details began to surface.

During an interview with an FBI agent at the Miller County Jail, Swarnes claimed that he, Stangeland and Wadel perpetrated the Scammell invasion in an effort to learn the whereabouts of a man named Jeffrey Muller from Scammell. Swarnes also told investigators that the three of them kidnapped Muller with orders from William Barger, also of Nevada, to return him to Missouri.

The official statement states that Swarnes identified Stangeland as the person that shot Scammell during the home invasion. Scammell lost three fingers of his right hand as a result of the gunshot. During the home invasion the three questioned the Scammells about a man named Jeffrey Muller. According to court documents, Swarnes told police that they then tied the Scammells to chairs with zip ties and told them not to tell police what really happened.

In the end, five men were arrested. The alleged kidnappers implicated Barger who was arrested, and he implicated Roy Slates, of Nevada, and he was arrested. The five men have been in different courtrooms and jails since then.

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011, Wadel was sentenced to 18 years in a in New Jersey prison for his role in the failed kidnapping of Muller.

Wadel admitted shooting Muller with a stun gun and pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and lesser charges.

The other two alleged kidnappers, Douglas Stangeland of Nevada and Lonnie Swarnes of Rich Hill were both offered a deal similar to Wadel's but declined.

They currently are awaiting trial in a Sussex County, N. J., jail.

Barger, also of Nevada, is being held in a different New Jersey jail on numerous charges relating to the case. He was not offered any kind of a deal, according to New Jersey prosecutors. The four men allegedly kidnapped Muller because they believed Muller was a money broker with the same name who was to blame for a failed land deal involving Slates. Prosecutors say the men hoped to recoup a percentage of about $500,000.

Slates pleaded guilty in a New Jersey court to conspiracy to commit theft by extortion, a second-degree crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Slates will not be sentenced until the other cases are resolved.

On Nov. 15, 2011, Slates was given a suspended sentence of five years of court-supervised probation in the circuit courtroom of Judge James R. Bickel. Slates pleaded guilty to the felonies of concealing a felony and hindering prosecution.

All four of the other men face charges in Vernon County when their respective proceedings in New Jersey are concluded.

Wadel is the first to be returned.

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