NEOSHO, Mo. — A judge Tuesday dismissed a kidnapping charge that a Neosho man was facing when the alleged victim acknowledged on the witness stand that a family member gave one of his abductors a ride home after his ordeal.

Associate Judge Kevin Selby found probable cause at a preliminary hearing in Newton County Circuit Court to order William A. Eads, 36, bound over for trial on charges of stealing a motor vehicle and possession of methamphetamine precursors, and set the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division of the court for Nov. 13.

The judge declined to bind Eads over on a count of second-degree kidnapping in light of Cole Hagebusch's testimony that not only had he been let go unharmed but also that one of his alleged abductors was given a ride home by the family member who came to pick up Hagebusch and take him home.

Hagebusch told the court that his alleged abduction on Aug. 29 began in the parking lot of the Walmart store on Lusk Drive in Neosho. A woman he knew had called him and asked for a ride, and he went there to pick her up on his motorcycle.

"I was there (in the parking lot) quite a while and then was approached by gentlemen who wanted my motorcycle and my money," Hagebusch told the court.

He identified Eads as one of the five men who approached him outside the store. He said Eads took his motorcycle and helmet and left after ordering another of the men, Blake McEvers, to taken $200 Hagebusch had on him. The woman who had asked for a ride then came out of the store, and Hagebusch was told he was coming with them in their vehicle.

A probable-cause affidavit states that he told them he did not wish to go with them, but they told him he was coming anyway and took his cellphone. He said they drove around Neosho while McEvers spoke with Eads by phone, finally stopping at one of the other men's residences and then going to Oak Tree Mart, where one of the others wrote a bill of sale for the motorcycle and told Hagebusch that he had to sign it.

He testified that he decided to sign it because he could see that it was not formatted in a manner that would hold up as a legal document. He testified under direct examination by Assistant Prosecutor Sarah Crites that he felt threatened by his alleged abductors and believed he was not free to leave.

He told the court that he finally got away when he wound up at another residence in McEvers' company alone. The affidavit states that McEvers told him that he could just take off, and McEvers would tell the others that he fled when he turned his back. Under cross-examination by public defender Kellie Duckering, Hagebusch acknowledged that McEvers wound up getting a ride home from the family member who came to pick him up.

Hagebusch also acknowledged having a 9 mm handgun that he never tried to use during the alleged abduction.

"If I had pulled it and one of them grabbed it, (things) could have went much worse," he explained.

Duckering also elicited an admission from Hagebusch that he was in debt to the woman who lured him to the Walmart lot. But he was not prepared to give up his motorcycle to settle the debt, he said.

"I didn't want to sell my bike because that was the only means of transportation I had," he said.

The motorcycle was later located by sheriff's deputies at Tipton Ford and returned to Hagebusch.

The count of possession of precursors that Eads is facing stems from a consent search of his home in Neosho on Sept. 12 when investigators were looking for Wade Woods, the suspect in a McDonald County slaying. A detective testified that a gym bag that was blocking investigators' access to the attic of the house was handed down to him during the search. He said the gym bag was open and he could see chemicals and other components for manufacturing methamphetamine inside.


Of the five men and one woman Cole Hagebusch identified as being involved in the theft of his motorcycle and his abduction from the parking lot of a Walmart, only William Eads and Blake McEvers were charged. McEvers was bound over for trial in the case Oct. 24.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.