The Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Wednesday, April 21, 1999

Crown drops kidnap charge in Internet abduction case

Gunter still faces weapons offences

by Brian Hayes, bhayes@herald.ns.ca

The Crown has withdrawn an unlawful confinement charge against a Florida man who had been accused of abducting a Halifax woman.

The charge against James Warren Gunter, 26, formerly of Lakeland, Fla., was dropped Tuesday after Halifax Regional Police charged the woman Friday with misleading police by causing them to enter into an investigation of an alleged abduction.

Michelle Elizabeth Lawrence, 26, of Union Street in Halifax will be arraigned on the mischief charge June 23 in Bedford provincial court.

Ms. Lawrence's parents reported her missing Feb.17. She had just started a new job, and had recently introduced her new friend, Mr. Gunter, to her family before she disappeared.

She resurfaced six weeks later at a Niagara Falls, Ont., mall and told authorities there that an American she had met in a Star Wars chat room on the Internet had abducted her at gunpoint.

Mr. Gunter appeared in Bedford court Tuesday facing two charges of being in possession of restricted weapons. He was remanded to the Halifax Correctional Centre until May 12 when he will be back in court to enter a plea to the charges.

Police allege the man was in possession of a restricted 9-mm Ruger semi-automatic revolver and a .40-calibre semi-automatic Beretta in Halifax between Jan.14 and April 2 of this year.

Mr. Gunter also faces numerous other criminal charges in Ontario and the United States.

Police in Kingston, Ont., have charged him with two counts of armed robbery, unlawful confinement, and pointing a firearm, and one count of wearing a disguise in the commission of a criminal offence.

On March 31 in Kingston, two men wearing masks robbed two Queen's University students at gunpoint and locked them in the truck of their car. The robbers stole the students' bank cards and identification.

Crown attorney Greg Lenehan said he understands discussions are under way between Mr. Gunter's lawyer and the Crown in Kingston to have charges in that city dealt with in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Gunter is also wanted in Florida and California for grand theft, breach of probation and stealing a motorcycle from a Hollywood, Calif., dealership.

Copyright © 1999 by The Halifax Chronicle-Herald. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.