Whitley County man sentenced to life in prison for violent kidnappings

Evidence from the trial shows the kidnappings were motivated by an unsuccessful drug transaction

LONDON, Ky. (WTVQ) According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Kentucky, 62-year-old George Oscar Messer of Rockholds, was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday, May 11. Messer was convicted in January by a federal jury on two counts of kidnapping.

According to court records, evidence presented during the trial, shows the kidnappings were motivated by an unsuccessful drug transaction, during which Messer’s son and his co-conspirators lost $10,000. Court records show Messer arrived at the scene of the kidnappings with numerous guns and held a revolver to one victim’s head while demanding the lost money. According to court records, Messer sexually assaulted one of the victims at gunpoint, after she was raped by one of the co-conspirators.

Messer and his co-conspirators held the two victims for 24 hours, during which time the victims were interrogated, threatened and assaulted. The victims escaped after a family member spotted them in a ditch on the side of the road with Messer. Law enforcement recovered 15 guns and drugs from Messer home.  At sentencing, Messer received numerous enhancements based on the use of a dangerous weapon, acting as a manager or supervisor, demanding a ransom and sexually exploiting a victim.

Messer also had a prior conviction for Sexual Abuse, from Whitley County in 2014. He was indicted in November of 2020. His co-conspirators Jake Messer, Joshua Mills and Stephen Jewell are awaiting sentencing.

“This is an unsettling example of the disturbing effects of illegal drug trafficking on our communities,” said Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.  “In this case, it also wrought armed kidnappings, tortuous threats, and repeated sexual assaults.  That unconstrained violence and unspeakable infliction of suffering certainly warrants the sentence imposed.  I want to commend our law enforcement partners for their dedicated efforts in this case, without which this prosecution would not have been possible.”

“This defendant was part of an armed drug-trafficking organization that committed heinous acts of violence,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge R. Shawn Morrow of the Louisville Division.  “I commend the efforts of the ATF agents and Kentucky State Police who worked diligently on this investigation to help bring justice to the victims who were kidnapped, tortured, and forced to endure the unimaginable.  We hope that this life sentence brings some form of healing to the victims and sends a very clear message that ATF and our law enforcement partners will not stand by and allow these acts of violence.”

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