Science

Prosecutors say man mistakenly recorded himself plotting to kidnap wife

Scanda Handley and her daughter, Isabella Cumberland, were at their home on a quiet street in Lafayette, Louisiana, on August 6, 2017 when two men appeared at their front door. At first glance they looked like deliverymen, which was a welcome interruption, as Handley anxiously awaits a clothes steamer she had ordered.

“I was very excited,” Handley told David Begnoud, CBS News’ chief national correspondent and “48 Hours” contributor. “I was like, ‘Oh, my steamer.'”

His joy turned to terror when the two men, instead of leaving a package, grabbed Handley at gunpoint, handcuffed him and threw him in the back of a van.

He recounts the details of his near-death experience in “The Kidnapping of Schanda Handley,” a brand new “48 Hours” airing Saturday, October 22, at 10/9c on CBS, and streaming on Paramount+.

Scandal Handley
Two men posing as deliverymen took Shanda Handley from her house at gunpoint. It was a brazen kidnapping in the normally quiet suburban town of Lafayette, Louisiana. And it was no accident

CBS News


“They surrounded me as I got into the van,” Handley said. “It was a van with no rear windows.”

Cumberland watched helplessly as the men fled with her mother.

“As they’re walking away with her, was that the last time you ever saw her?” Begnaud asked Cumberland.

“I thought there was a chance,” Cumberland replied.

Handley said one of the kidnappers was loading her into the back of the van, forcibly putting bullets in her mouth, while the other drove them out of town. She told that she began to lose consciousness, as she says the men threatened her with sexual assault and then killed her.

“And I started praying,” Handley said.


“48 Hours” investigates the tragic abduction of a Louisiana mother from her home

04:46

Her prayers were answered when Chad Martin, deputy with the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office – who had just been out of work and was unaware of Handley’s kidnapping about 60 miles away – spotted the van and attempted to stop traffic. The kidnappers exited the highway and tried to escape. After turning at the dead-end road, they got stuck in the mud and continued on foot. As Martin examined the van, he discovered a barely conscious Handley in the back.

“He looked at me,” said Martin. “She said, ‘Are you the real cop? Are you the one who’s going to kill me?'”

Martin reassured Handley that he was safe. A day later, the remains of her kidnappers were found in a waterway from where they had left the van – drowned as they attempted to escape. Nevertheless, Handley believed that the mastermind behind the conspiracy was still absconding and a threat to him.

“She had said that she believed her husband was the one who paid them to kill her,” Martin recalled Hendley telling her shortly after her defense.

Michael and Scanda Handley
Michael and Scanda Handley

Scandal Handley


Investigators began searching for Handley’s estranged husband, Michael Handley, and learned that in the months following the kidnapping, Scanda had called the police several times on Michael, and even placed a restraining order. was given. They also found a rapidly accumulating list of evidence pointing to his involvement in the kidnapping. They learn that he had rented the van the day before the kidnapping, and had also purchased the handcuffs used to stop Handley during it. After four days of hard work, he was arrested. He was charged with several counts of kidnapping as well as conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.

Then, as prosecutors were building their case, Scanda made a damning discovery of her own while cleaning up a remote property she owned in Mississippi. It was a camera Michael was using for security. But, with the motion activated recording feature, it turned out that he had accidentally turned on the camera himself.

“All put together, what did the camera record?” Begnaud asked Shanda.

“I mean, hundreds of hours,” he replied.

Prosecutor Kenny Hebert watched months’ worth of video documenting the time leading up to the kidnapping. Hebert said that on at least one occasion, Michael was recorded expressing how his wife needed to die. Hebert said that in a video clip just two weeks before the kidnapping, Michael was caught on camera with one of the kidnappers, Sylvester Bracey, while they were conversing in the living room of the Mississippi estate, then kidnapping Skanda. were planning.

,[Michael Handley] Specifically say, ‘It’s almost impossible for anyone to come here,'” Hebert said. “To which Bracey replied, ‘And it would be impossible for him to get out.'”

Michael Handley and Sylvester Bracey
Michael Handley, well, is caught on camera with one of the kidnappers, Sylvester Bracey, prosecutors say, planning to kidnap Scanda.

15th Judicial Court


On top of other physical evidence, Hebert said, he now had documentary evidence that Michael plotted to kidnap Shanda—his ultimate plan was to kill her.

“I thought, ‘I must have done something right in the world,'” Hebert said of the video proof.

In July 2021, Michael Handley pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping, and was later sentenced to 35 years in prison. A small relief for Shanda, who said she fears the day her now ex-husband will finally get out of jail.

“I wish he never came out,” said Shanda. “Once Michael’s out, I’m no longer free.”

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