BOONE, NC (WBTV) - More than a dozen search warrants in the January kidnapping of a Burke County man were released in Watauga County on Thursday.
The warrants were filed there because most of the suspects were arrested in Watauga County. The warrants allowed investigators to gather data from phones they found with the suspects. They also allowed them to delve into social media outlets the suspects may have been involved in such as Facebook.
The affidavits that authorities used to request the warrants last month were built substantially through statements from one of the suspects, Leigh Katherine Mina Littleton. She and her husband were the first two people arrested. She told investigators, according to the affidavit, that Lamaar Edmondson had been given money to buy seven grams of methamphetamine but only came back with 2.25 grams.
That's when she says she, her husband, and another woman took Edmondson from Burke County, then to Watauga County, and eventually to Tennessee. She claims he was beaten with brass knuckles by her husband and others at several stops on the journey.
Ransom calls for $700 were made to the victim's mother and father during that time, including a plea from Lamaar to his mother saying "This is for real."
It ended in a wooded area near Trade, Tennessee, according to Littleton. She says the victim was beaten and kicked until he was unconscious. Investigators were told the assault was captured on cellphone video. She claims they left him there unconscious and later in the day three of the people with them went back to get "the body."
Littleton says she does not know what happened after that.
Investigators are still trying to find Edmondson. The warrants allowed authorities to retrieve the video from the cellphone, as well as other information. That's what led to the murder charges against three suspects being held in Tennessee.
Sheriff Mike Reece in Johnson County says more charges against the others are possible, but his primary goal now is to find Lamaar.
"It is a recovery effort now," Reece said.
He is hoping one of the suspects will point the way, but noted that all have attorneys and his investigators "cannot force them to talk."
In the meantime, he says his people will follow every lead they get.