Five bounty hunters were charged in Camden County after beating and allegedly robbing a suspect they were pursuing, then kidnapping the suspect's teenage acquaintance and holding a knife to his throat, authorities said Thursday.
The wild incident unfolded about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday along Briarhill Drive in Chesilhurst. The bounty hunters were watching for Eric L. Webb, 38, of Lindenwold, who was wanted on a drug-charge warrant in Camden County, the county prosecutor's office said.
As Webb and the 17-year-old acquaintance stepped out of a car, some of the hunters walked toward them, authorities said. Webb then allegedly fled in his car, striking one of the hunters' vehicles, authorities said.
Three of the hunters - Brian Williams, 32, of Burlington Township, and Ralph M. Lemar, 34, and Jovani A. Diaz, 25, both of Philadelphia - chased Webb until he crashed his car behind a Travelers Lodge in the 700 block of White Horse Pike in Waterford Township, authorities said.
Lemar then hit Webb in the head with a tire iron, the prosecutor's office said. Diaz, Williams, and Lemar also allegedly stole Webb's cellphone and cash.
Back on Briarhill Drive, the two other bounty hunters - Marvella Brown-Bailey, 37, of Burlington Township, and Innish Henderson, 25, of Philadelphia - allegedly handcuffed the 17-year-old and placed him in their vehicle.
Henderson and Brown-Bailey then stole the teenager's cash and cellphone, with Henderson holding him at knifepoint, the prosecutor's office said. The teenager later escaped on foot.
Brown-Bailey has worked for Ms. Nancy's Bails in Mount Holly for 14 years and never had a problem, said owner Nancy Henry, 75.
Brown-Bailey was the only licensed hunter of the five, authorities said. According to state law, only a licensed individual can search for or pursue suspects. To be licensed as a bounty hunter, that individual also must have five years of law enforcement experience and five recommendations from people he or she has known for three years.
The unlicensed hunters in Wednesday's incident, Henry said, were brought on only for surveillance.
"They were just supposed to watch and notify us when we saw him," Henry said. "And then we move in."
Henry said she didn't know the full story of what the hunters did with Webb. But Brown-Bailey, Henry said, never stole from or kidnapped the teenager, alleging that the teen made the story up.
"Marvella Bailey is by all means a victim," Henry said, calling her close coworker "Ms. Nancy the second."
Webb, Henry said, had not appeared for the sentencing related to his drug charge. Henry said the insurance company she uses would have had to pay the full amount of Webb's bail - the one he received after his initial arrest - had he not been captured.
The five hunters face a variety of charges, including robbery, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. Their bail amounts range from $250,000 to $400,000.
Webb, who authorities said was found with 23 bags of heroin, was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and given $100,000 bail. The 17-year-old was not charged.