Thursday, November 12, 2009

Police: Florida wife faked her own abduction

What always gets me, is the excuse making that follows any time something like this happens. At what point do we stop excusing bad behavior, and punish it?

Cops say it was actually a $50,000 extortion plot cooked up with her lover.

It sounds like the sort of romantic-mystery potboiler that keeps readers on the edge of their summer beach chairs: A strikingly pretty Florida housewife with a handsome husband and two beautiful young daughters is kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and held for $50,000 ransom.

Or was she?

Prosecutors contend the strange case of 37-year-old Quinn Gray, who claims she was abducted and held for four days in hellish captivity, is a cleverly planned ruse. They claim her supposed abductor, a 25-year-old Bosnian immigrant, was actually her lover, and that the pair plotted to extort cash from Quinn’s well-heeled husband, Reid.

Quinn Gray and her alleged lover, Jasmin Osmanovic, are charged with extortion. But two of her lawyers appeared on TODAY Tuesday to say that Gray, who has a history of mental illness, is a terrorized victim, not a scheming co-conspirator. The case has set the community around Jacksonville, Fla., abuzz.

‘Please do this, honey’

No one is arguing the basics of the case. Quinn Gray went missing the Friday of Labor Day weekend. A ransom note, written in Quinn’s handwriting, was found tacked to the front door of the Gray’s $4 million home, stating: “There are three men holding me right now, and they want $50,000 cash. Stay at the house NO COPS! Keep your cell phone on you. Keep the kids with you. Please do this honey, please!”

But authorities believe it was all trickery. They believe Gray was having an affair with Osmanovic that began when the two met in June at a gas station where Osmanovic worked, and that the pair cooked up a fake kidnapping plot.

“It became more and more evident to really everybody involved that there was something far more complex and involved than a kidnapping,” St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar told NBC. “Quinn Gray was not kidnapped.”

Authorities cite, among other things, the manager of the hotel where Gray was allegedly being held saying she “didn’t seem to be in distress at all,” and a 90-minute audiotape they say captured the sounds of Gray and Osmanovic in the throes of passion, and then plotting the details of a fake kidnapping.

Mental illness, substance abuse

But Gray attorney Mark Miller has a simple explanation: Quinn Gray is a very sick woman. Miller told Matt Lauer live on TODAY, “Her reaction to the kidnapping, it may seem bizarre, but it’s all explained by her mental illness.”

Miller says psychiatric problems run in Gray’s family, and that she tried to mask her own emotional problems by abusing alcohol. Gray checked in to the renowned Hazelden clinic in Minnesota last June to receive treatment, but when she checked out in July, she was a virtual mental powder keg, her attorneys say.

“Quinn has grown up with a stigma against recognizing what she was going through,” Miller told Lauer. “She self-medicated for much of her adult life with alcohol; that led to a substance abuse problem. In the middle of the summer, she was treated for alcoholism.

“When she came back, for the next six weeks she was untreated, undiagnosed and she was no longer self-medicating. She was in a manic phase of her bipolar disorder when she was kidnapped.”

That made Quinn Gray easy pickings for the likes of Osmanovic, Miller contends. He said that when the case goes to court, he will move to have the incriminating audiotape tossed out under rape shield laws. Far from being a tape of two people making love, then scheming to collect $50,000, said Miller, the tape is actually “an audio recording of a woman who has been kidnapped, abducted and being raped.”

Standing by his wifeFor now, Quinn Gray is at a psychiatric facility on St. Simons Island in Georgia, and Osmanovic is in jail. Attorney Rick Jancha, also representing Gray, told Lauer Tuesday that she is “doing rather well. Of course she’s very anxious about what’s going on. She’s in the middle of her treatment.”

And Reid Gray is standing by his wife, both believing her version of the events and bankrolling her defense. In a statement, he said, “This has been an extraordinarily traumatic experience for me and my entire family. I am deeply concerned over how this incident has, and will continue to, affect our children. I love my family and will do whatever I can to make sure that Quinn receives all of the help and support that she needs.”

Osmanovic continues to assert to authorities that he and Gray had a six-week relationship that included trysts at his gas station, at a hotel and even at her home. He says Gray made him a house key and gave him the home’s security code — and gave him a cover story to use if anyone came to the door while he was there.

Miller asserts that Osmanovic’s claims, and the prosecutor’s contention that the pair were having an affair, are bogus.

“Not one e-mail, not one text message, not one cell phone record — there is nothing that supports their contention that it’s a faked kidnapping,” Miller said.

Thanks to slwerner for the tip.