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Date: 04-18-2024

Case Style:

United States of America v. Amy Kay Thomas

Case Number: s

Judge: M. Douglas Harpool

Court: The United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Plaintiff's Attorney: The United States Attorney’s Office for Springfield

Defendant's Attorney:

Click Here For The Best Springfield, Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyer Directory


Springfield , Missouri criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and to being a felon in possession of a firearm..

Conspirators Tortured, Fatally Shot Kidnapping Victim

A Webb City, Mo., woman was sentenced in federal court today for her role in a kidnapping conspiracy that resulted in the torture and death of the victim, and for illegally possessing a firearm.

Amy Kay Thomas, 40, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 20 years in federal prison without parole.

On April 27, 2023, Thomas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Thomas is the fourth defendant to be sentenced in this case. James B. Gibson, also known as “Gibby,” 41, of Neosho, Mo., was sentenced on Monday, April 15, to 30 years in federal prison without parole. Russell Eugene Hurtt, also known as “Uncle,” 52, of Greenwood, Mo., was sentenced on Tuesday, April 16, to seven years in federal prison without parole. Lawrence William Vaughan, also known as “Scary Larry,” 52, of Neosho, was sentenced on Nov. 7, 2013, to 25 years in federal prison without parole.

Two co-defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentencing in this case. Sentencing hearings have not yet been scheduled for Freddie Lewis Tilton, also known as “Ol’ Boy,” 51, and Carla Jo Ward, 50, both of Joplin, Mo.

Thomas admitted that she participated in a conspiracy to kidnap the victim, identified as “M.H.,” in July 2020. Tilton offered Ward and Vaughan $5,000 each to locate and secure M.H. for him. Ward picked up M.H., whom she knew was being sought by Tilton, and took him to Vaughan’s residence. Vaughan texted Tilton, stating “Call me quickly handing (M.H.) to you.” Vaughan and Tilton continued communicating throughout the early morning hours of July 15, 2020. Vaughan sent a text message to Tilton that read, “He’s got 2 guns.” A few hours later, Vaughan sent a text message to Tilton that read, “OK we’ve got both his guns put up,” and “Guns are secure I’m waiting for you.”

Tilton, Thomas, and Gibson arrived at Vaughan’s residence in the early morning hours of July 15, 2020. They bound M.H.’s hands with handcuffs, and duct tape was placed around his mouth and other parts of his body. Gibson, Thomas, and others assaulted M.H. for a period of time. M.H. was cut, beaten, and shot at. Gibson burned M.H. with a blowtorch. Tilton fatally shot M.H. in the head. Thomas and others cleaned up the blood and damage created during the assault and shooting of M.H. They wrapped M.H.’s body in plastic wrap and Thomas, Tilton, and Gibson transported it to Hurtt’s property.

Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hurtt’s property on July 28, 2020, based on information that a deceased body was located on the acreage. When officers attempted to contact the occupants of the residence, Tilton fired multiple shots from inside the residence at the officers. Tilton was apprehended.

Officers found M.H.’s body on the property. Officers searched the residence and found a Rigarmi .25-caliber pistol, an Ithaca .22-caliber rifle, a Remington .22-caliber rifle without a serial number, a Harrington and Richardson 12-gauge shotgun, a Ruger 9mm handgun, and a Taurus 9mm handgun without a serial number.

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Thomas has two prior felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance and prior felony convictions for forgery, possession of ephedrine with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, and distribution of a controlled substance.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the FBI, the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Neosho, Mo., Police Department, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team, and the Cherokee County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department.

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at


Defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole.

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