MAYS LANDING, N.J. - A career criminal recently released from prison and his young accomplice were arrested in Atlantic County on Friday morning and charged in connection with the May 21 disappearance of a North Jersey tourist from a garage at the Trump Taj Mahal casino.
Craig Brian Arno, 44, of Atlantic City, and Jessica Kisby, 24, of Egg Harbor Township, face first-degree counts of kidnapping and carjacking. Each was jailed with cash bail set at $400,000, Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said.
They were arrested at the Golden Key Motel in the West Atlantic City section of Egg Harbor Township, he said.
The pair allegedly abducted Martin Caballero, 47, who remains missing. Caballero's Lincoln MKS luxury sedan was found engulfed in flames off Coles Road in a secluded area of Gloucester Township, about 50 miles from where he was last seen.
Arno has a criminal history dating to 1981, when he killed a motorist while drag racing on City Avenue in Philadelphia. He was last released from prison on March 29.
Investigators seek the public's help in finding Caballero, a North Bergen grocer who arrived in Atlantic City around 10:30 p.m. with his wife and another carload of relatives to celebrate his daughter's 22d birthday. He apparently dropped off his wife at the Taj Mahal, then drove into a casino garage.
After parking, Caballero was approached first by Kisby, then by Arno, and "something occurred," said Housel, who declined to elaborate. He would not say whether forensic evidence was discovered in the burned car or whether a weapon was involved.
Surveillance video shows Caballero in the Lincoln leaving the garage, followed by a silver Toyota driven by one of the suspects. Housel said the Toyota was owned by Arno's grandmother.
Arno is well known to law enforcement. He was 16 when he killed a 27-year-old nurse while racing at speeds up to 80 m.p.h. on City Avenue near 77th Street in the city's Overbrook Park section. His car collided head-on with one driven by Karen McNaughton of Media on Oct. 21, 1981. McNaughton was declared dead on arrival at Lankenau Hospital, where she had been headed for duty to assist in an emergency heart operation.
The charge of murder against Arno was reduced to involuntary manslaughter in 1982, and he received a sentence of five years of probation during which he could not drive or own a vehicle.
But he was arrested three years later when police spotted weaving in traffic on City Avenue. At an April 1985 hearing, then-Assistant District Attorney Arnold Gordon described Arno as a "grave threat to society who killed once and may kill again." His probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 21/2 to 5 years in prison.
Arno was living in Atlantic City in 1997 when he pleaded guilty to charges including attempted bank fraud and counterfeiting. He was sentenced to six concurrent 70-month terms in federal prison plus five years of supervised release.
In April 2006 Atlantic City police charged him with theft by deception, identity theft, and other counts. After serving three years in state prison, he was immediately transferred to a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, to serve 20 more months.
On July 2008, Arno appeared in U.S. District Court in Camden and pleaded guilty to violating parole by stealing a car, among other charges. That led to two years in prison followed by two more years of supervised release.
He was released from federal custody on Feb. 5 and transferred to a New Jersey prison where he served about two months before the state released him in March, according to a Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
What happened after Caballero's Lincoln left the Taj Mahal garage is unclear. Investigators said Friday the two cars drove around Atlantic City for less than an hour. The Lincoln left the resort via the Atlantic City Expressway headed west. It left the toll road at Exit 12 in Mays Landing-Hamilton Township.
The car later got back on the expressway at Exit 12 and left it again in Pleasantville, where Caballero's ATM card was used to buy a cigarette lighter and a fire starter at a Wawa store and $5 worth of gas in a container at an Exxon station. It also was used to withdraw cash at a bank.
The Lincoln reentered the expressway, headed to Philadelphia and exited at Almonesson, off Route 42. That's where it was torched behind an office building, Housel said.
Aided by federal marshals, "good police work" led county investigators to the Golden Key Motel, where Arno and Kisby were arrested on Friday, Housel said. He said it was coincidence that the arrests were at the same establishment where the bodies of four prostitutes were found behind the building in 2006. Those killings remain unsolved.
"This is where we need the public's assistance in finding Mr. Caballero," Housel said at a news briefing. "If the public has any information, it might help save the victim in this case."