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Evidence in the kidnapping of Schanda Handley

CBS News

As soon as Schanda Handley was rescued, she told police she believed her estranged husband was behind her kidnapping. See the evidence that convinced investigators he was responsible.

On August 6, 2017, Schanda Handley was at her Lafayette, Louisiana, home with her daughter when two men appeared at their door. They seemed to be making a delivery, but instead forced their way in with guns. Schanda tried to reason with the intruders by offering them valuables and cash, but they were not interested. The men handcuffed Schanda, put her in the back of a van and drove off.

Schanda’s daughter, Isabella

Isabella Cumberland

CBS News

The kidnappers had attempted to take Schanda’s 14-year-old daughter Isabella as well, but when she refused to go with them, they left her behind. Isabella watched helplessly as the kidnappers drove away with her mom.

A terrifying ride

The kidnapper's van

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

While one kidnapper drove, the other sat on top of Schanda, stripped her and put pills in her mouth. Schanda says she started praying.

“And I was like, ‘God, I’m gonna trust that this is gonna go down the way it’s supposed to go down. And it may not be good, but I’m gonna trust that you got this,'” Schanda told “48 Hours.”

At one point, off-duty sheriff’s deputy Chad Martin spotted the van driving erratically. He attempted to make a traffic stop, but the driver pulled the van onto the shoulder and sped off.

Dead end

Area where van got stuck

CBS News

The kidnappers pulled the van onto a dead-end dirt road nearly 60 miles from Lafayette and got stuck in the mud. They abandoned the van — with Schanda in it — and ran.

Deputy Chad Martin

Deputy Chad Martin

CBS News

Deputy Martin of the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office approached the van and found Schanda naked and handcuffed in the back.

“She looked at me and said, ‘Are you the real police? Or are you the one that’s gonna kill me?'” Martin told “48 Hours.”

Michael Handley

Michael Handley

Lafayette Daily Advertiser-USA Today Network

As she was being rescued from the site where the kidnappers left her, Schanda told police she believed her estranged husband, Michael Handley, was behind the kidnapping.

Investigators learned that in the months leading up to the kidnapping, Schanda had called police numerous times about Michael’s behavior and had obtained a restraining order. 

Evidence in the case

Michael Handley surveillance

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

While investigating the case, authorities found evidence that they say pointed to Michael Handley as the mastermind behind the kidnapping.

In this surveillance footage, Handley is seen purchasing handcuffs from a police supply store three days before Schanda’s kidnapping.

The handcuffs

Handcuffs purchases by Michael Hanley

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Authorities would confirm that the handcuffs Michael Handley purchased were the same ones used to restrain Schanda.

The rented van

Michael Hanley van rental receipt

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Investigators also learned that the day before the kidnapping, Michael had rented the van used in the kidnapping from an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Detectives knew they had enough evidence to arrest Michael Handley for Schanda’s kidnapping — but first, they had to find him.

The arrest

Michael Handley arrest

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

After a four-day manhunt, detectives found and arrested an oddly smiling Michael Handley at a Super 8 motel in Slidell, Louisiana.

The motel room

Michael handley evidence

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

In the motel room, detectives found illegal drugs, nearly $10,000 in cash, and burner phones. 

Michael’s to-do list

Michael Handley's to-do list

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Another item investigators found in the motel room was this to-do list. On it were items such as “burner phone,” “hair dye,” “new location,” “cash,” “train” and “contacts/sunglasses.” 

The final item on the list, “finish job,” led investigators to believe Michael intended to kill Schanda. 

Caught on tape

Michael Handley video recording

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

After Michael’s arrest, Schanda found more incriminating evidence while cleaning out a property they owned in Mississippi. She found a video camera called Arlo that Michael had previously used for security. 

On June 4, 2017, Michael had unwittingly recorded himself in a hotel room on the camera. He can be heard talking to himself saying, “kill her … kill her.” Investigators believe he was talking about his intention to kill Schanda.

“She’ll have to die”

Michael Handley video

15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

In a video dated June 10, 2017, Michael is recorded discussing his and Schanda’s relationship with a friend. Investigators say that he can be heard saying, “that’s why she’ll have to die.” The friend later said he didn’t recall hearing Michael say this.

The plea

Michael Handley

Claudia B. Laws-USA Today Network

Michael Handley pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

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