Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weird Crime: The Kidnapping and Rescue of Gizmo the Lemur

(photo @ discovery.com)


Mobile, Alabama

In early January of 2013, the home of Julie Harris was burglarized. Only three items were taken, but they were things that no one ever wants to come home to find missing: A flat screen television, an Xbox, and her pet lemur, Gizmo.

Julie instantly went to police and the local news to ask for help. While her material possessions could be replaced, Gizmo was an animal that she considered part of her family. He also required special care that she was afraid his captors would be completely unaware of.


                                                 gremlins.wikia.com
[Insert obvious 'Gremlins' reference here]


Meanwhile, Gizmo's abductor, 32-year-old James Welborne Jr., crossed the border into George County, Mississippi to dump the newly acquired lemur off with his sister. He even had the nerve to tell her that the pet belonged to a friend of his who was deployed in Afghanistan and he was taking care of it for him.

But unfortunately for James, a missing lemur makes for some great time-filler on a local news broadcast. One night while sitting at home with Gizmo, James' sister saw this report on pop up on the television.




Aside from showing that Julie Harris has some incredibly cool pets (and a house that probably smells all types of awful), the report made James' sister aware that her brother (who she knew had a history of theft) bringing her a rare animal that perfectly matched the stolen animal's description was not a coincidence.

That news report combined with offers of a cash reward for the missing primate turned up the heat on James' sister far more than she was willing to deal with. She called her brother and demanded that he come and get the stolen monkey out of her home. Instead of going himself, however, James sent his incredibly intelligent-looking friend, 34-year-old Brian Sanders, to fetch Gizmo.


I'm really hoping he was the muscle of the operation


Brian took the lemur back to his home where he hatched a ransom plan with his girlfriend, 38-year-old Veruschka Guy (whose name sounds like a character from a very dark remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).


"Which one of these here candies got meth in 'em?!"


They called Julie Harris and simply/omniously stated 'I know where your lemur is at.' The Bonnie and Clyde couple then agreed to meet her at a gas station near the state line to make the exchange.

When they arrived, the Brian and Veruschka got out of the car and showed Julie pictures of Gizmo on their laptop to confirm that it was the right lemur. When Julie offered them the $100 reward, however, the pair said that it wasn't enough and demanded more money.

Julie claimed that she would need to go back home to get the cash. Her cunning antagonists never once suspected that she might actually be going to the police to set up a sting operation. But when they met up at the same gas station again at 3:00 AM the next morning, Brian and Veruschka were greeted by a team of deputies who swiftly moved in to make the arrest and rescue Gizmo.


                                                      countylifeonline
"Okay boys... no need to yell 'BREACH' when opening the car door..."


But while Julie was happily reunited with her pet, the police in Mobile, Alabama were still looking for James Welbourne, who was the one that started this whole ridiculous chain of events. They worked together with police in Brown County, Mississippi and told them to keep a close eye out for anyone that looked like a younger, redneck version of Danny Bonaduce...




...and on February 12 during a routine traffic stop, they finally caught him

James Welborn Jr. was arrested and charged with burglary. He is currently awaiting extradition back to Alabama, where he will undoubtedly face charges, prison time, and a large amount of ridicule from the other inmates.

But James has no one to blame for himself for his latest incarceration. Just because you cross a state line does not mean that you are home free from committing a crime in the state you just left...especially on the border of Alabama and Mississippi. 

Sheriff Dean Howell made that perfectly clear with this awesome statement he gave to close out the case:

“We don’t put up with any monkey business in George County,”


Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.