SLIDELL, LA — A millionaire Louisiana businessman orchestrated the kidnapping of his estranged wife — which resulted in the deaths of two men — in the midst of a bitter divorce battle, according to new court filings.
Lawrence Michael Handley, 49, was arrested at a motel in Slidell on August 11, just four days after his wife, Schanda Handley, was kidnapped at gunpoint by two men.
On August 15, Schanda filed new court documents that revealed details of her terrifying ordeal after the alleged kidnapping.
She says her husband hired two kidnappers, Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Montreal Haynes, both 27, and gave the men “items necessary to kidnap, bind, torture, and abuse” her.
The kidnapping was allegedly set for August 6. On that date, the two men abducted their victim from the couple’s home in Lafayette. The suspects allegedly handcuffed two other adults who were present at the home, and then forced Schanda to leave with them at gunpoint, with a bag over her head.
The men allegedly planned to bring her to Handley. Schanda claims that during the car ride, she was stripped, tortured, and abused as her captors threatened to rape and murder her.
Bracey and Haynes’ plan was foiled when they attracted the attention of an off-duty deputy by driving on the shoulder of the road. Schanda was found bound in the back of the car, and rescued. The kidnappers fled on foot, and jumped into the Instracoastal Canal in an attempt to escape — where they both drowned. Their bodies were recovered the next day.
Handley attempted to flee as well, after somehow discovering his scheme hadn’t gone as planned. When he was picked up by police, he was holed up in a motel and had attempted to charter a plane.
Schanda herself is no stranger to trouble with the law — the divorce documents indicate that Handley had filed multiple restraining orders against her. He claimed that she attacked him several times in March and April. In one instance, Schanda allegedly threatened to hire a hit man to kill him and told him she was going to to “bite off his genitals and swallow them in front of him.” She was arrested on July 12 on two domestic-violence allegations, but bonded out.Some of Schanda’s accusations against her husband include installing a tracking device on her phone, infidelity, “excessive prescription drug use,” allowing his “subservient mistress” to contact her, and allowing others to leave her threatening voice messages.
Handley, who cofounded Townsend, a Louisiana network for substance-abuse treatment centers, is now being held on $266,000 bail for charges of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping, online impersonation, and violating protective orders. He served as the company’s CEO before selling it in 2015 for $21.25 million in cash.
Main photo: Lawrence Michael Handley [Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office]