Bizarre Case in Florida Involves Mainers, Kidnapping, Child Abuse

A transient couple living in Daytona Beach, Florida is accused of kidnapping a man at gunpoint, with their toddler in the backseat.

Who Are the Suspects?

Shannon Kay, 42, and Derek Pearson, 38, both of Bradford, Maine are charged with kidnapping, armed burglary, aggravated assault, and aggravated child abuse. They were arrested on Sunday after a bizarre incident that involved a man they had befriended a day earlier, partied with, and then allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint.

Daytona Beach Police confirmed for us that officers were first called to a local motel on January 15 by an employee who said a woman was sitting in a car with a firearm, a man was in the passenger seat, and a young child was in the backseat .

When the officers arrived, they found Shannon Kay in the driver’s seat of a silver Subaru Outback, the alleged victim in the passenger seat, and the toddler who police say was completely soiled in urine and feces sitting in an unsecured child seat. Derek Pearson was pouring gas into the vehicle from a small container and told police that the car had run out of gas.

At first, Pearson gave police his brother’s name in an effort to conceal his identity because he has active warrants in Bangor, Maine. He eventually told them his actual identification was hidden in the child’s diaper. Officials determined that Kay and Pearson are the child’s parents and that the boy is just under 2 years old. The victim, who is identified in the arrest report as McDuffie, also had an active arrest warrant and was taken into custody, as well.

How Did the Situation Begin?

Pearson and McDuffie first met on January 14, when McDuffie saw the Maine man walking by the converted school bus he lives in, carrying jugs of fuel. When he learned that Pearson’s RV was having engine problems, he offered to go along and see if he could fix it. Once the repair was made, the two left in Pearson’s in-law’s vehicle, with McDuffie behind the wheel. Pearson asked if he knew where to score some heroin and McDuffie helped him to find the drugs. What followed were hours of partying, consumption of illegal substances, and the vehicle being passed from person to person until it ended up back with Pearson.

When Pearson returned to the RV he shared with Kay on January 15, she said she noticed that her child’s backpack and Pearson’s cell phone were missing. They went to McDuffie’s bus and woke him from sleep, allegedly confronting him with a gun and a taser. McDuffie told police that he informed the couple that a woman he was partying with the night before had probably taken the items.

Why Did They Allegedly Kidnap the Man?

This is when Kay and Pearson allegedly forced McDuffie into the vehicle and took off. The victim would later tell police that Kay was driving crazy, running red lights, all while Pearson allegedly had a gun at his side. According to the police report, McDuffie told them Kay said: “they were going to take him with them back to Maine and they were going to make him suffer, kill him, and burn his body along with the car to get insurance money.”

McDuffie said he considered causing an accident because he was the only one wearing a seat belt, but he changed his mind when he realized the child was not secured. When the vehicle ran out of gas at the motel, Pearson gave Kay the firearm and walked to a local convenience store for gas. When he returned, officers arrived on the scene.

Officials say the Maine couple’s accounts of most of the incident matched McDuffie’s. However, they said he was not kidnapped but was a willing participant in helping them retrieve their lost or stolen items.

Police searched the vehicle and found a taser and a BB gun that they say exactly resembled a .44 or .45 large-caliber firearm. Also seized were drug paraphernalia and trace amounts of illicit narcotics found beneath the unsecured child’s seat. Also found in the Subaru was a cut catalytic converter. Both Kay and Pearson denied knowing anything about it.

The child was turned over to local child welfare authorities.

This case remains under investigation. Below is body cam footage provided by the Daytona Beach Police Department.

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