Sheldon Morey

Accused kidnapper Sheldon Morey speaks with defense attorney Richard Burgoon at his motion hearing in Bennington.

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BENNINGTON — A judge denied a motion to dismiss the case of a Bennington man accused of kidnapping a teenager and fleeing along the East Coast last summer, ruling that Bennington does have jurisdiction in the case.

Sheldon Morey, 37, is charged with one count of kidnapping a victim under 16 after being arrested in the Baltimore, Maryland, area by a combined task force of federal, state, and local law enforcement.

The motion to dismiss due to jurisdictional issues was based on whether Vermont’s Department of Children and Families can be considered a “person” enough to establish jurisdiction in Vermont. The motion stated the kidnapping occurred in New York, the victim allegedly lived in New York, and that Morey was homeless in New York at the time of the incident. The only known tie to Vermont was that DCF had custody of the minor at the time of the kidnapping.

After a brief recess to research the issue, Judge Kerry McDonald-Cady denied the motion, expressing her belief that the evidence so far in the case pointed toward allowing Morey’s prosecution in Vermont because of the DCF custody of the minor. McDonald-Cady reasoned that in this particular instance, the fact that DCF was involved was enough for Vermont to prosecute.

“This was one of those unusual cases where a judge, on the record, explained her reasoning in a very detailed argument in open court,” said Morey’s defense attorney Richard Burgoon. “That really helped everyone to understand the complex issues involved.”

According to a police affidavit, the 15-year-old victim ran away from home in early July last year. The mother of the victim told police that she believed the victim was in the company of Morey, who was known to the victim. The mother gave police a description of Morey, the vehicle she thought they were travelling in, and Morey’s cellphone number.

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At some point that week, police received information that Morey was in the Bennington, Pownal, Somerset, and Searsburg areas of Vermont. All locations were checked without locating the victim or Morey.

Later that week, a “ping” test was performed on Morey’s cellphone, locating him in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Law enforcement located the vehicle and attempted to make contact, but Morey fled. A high-speed pursuit ended due to safety concerns. His phone later pinged in and around Baltimore, where he was located and taken into custody.

It was noted that Morey is not a relative of the victim, who was in the custody of Vermont’s DCF at the time of the kidnapping. No further information on the nature of DCF’s custodial relationship or why they were involved was released due to the victim’s age.

Morey is no stranger to Vermont’s legal system. He has a criminal record that includes unlawful restraint, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, domestic assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, two violations of probation, and several outstanding cases, including several misdemeanors and a felony count of sexual exploitation of a minor. Those cases are still ongoing.

Morey faces a life sentence if found guilty on the kidnapping charge. He is being held without bail at the Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland pending a weight of evidence hearing.


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