Vermont man sentenced to 25 years in prison for kidnapping woman and son outside of a mall

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after he was convicted of kidnapping a woman and her 4-year-old son by forcing them into her car outside a New Hampshire mall and bringing them to Vermont while he was searching for his estranged wife.

Everett Simpson, 46, was convicted by a jury in federal court last year on two counts of kidnapping and two counts of interstate car theft. He had acted as his own attorney during the trial and at his sentencing Monday. An email seeking comment from his stand-by public defender was sent Tuesday.

The sentencing “closes a dark period in two victims' lives and hopefully allows their healing process to continue and provides a sense of security to them and others,” U.S. Attorney for Vermont Nikolas Kerest said in a statement.

Simpson admitted before the jury that he left a Vermont drug treatment center shortly after he was dropped off there on the night of Jan. 4, 2019, for court-ordered substance abuse treatment from another case.

He stole a van parked in a nearby driveway and drove it to Manchester, New Hampshire, where it was abandoned the next day. Simpson acknowledged driving back to White River Junction, Vermont, with the alleged victim and her son in her car. But he said the woman had agreed to do so and that she had opportunities to leave had she wanted.

“I am guilty of a lot of things, but not kidnapping,” Simpson said in court last year.

The woman and her child were taken to a Vermont motel. Simpson then took the victim’s car to Pennsylvania, where he was eventually arrested.

Court documents say the victim was sexually assaulted while in the motel, but the federal charges did not include sexual assault. Simpson is, however, facing separate state sexual assault charges.

Simpson said he fled the treatment center because he was trying to find his estranged wife, who he believed was having a relationship with another man.

In 2020, the woman received $400,000 in the settlement of a lawsuit accusing the state of Vermont of not doing enough to find Simpson after he left the treatment center. The woman also said she had received a sizable settlement from the treatment center, but the exact amount is unclear.

Victim impact statements were filed under seal in the federal case because they include personal information about, and statements from or about, victims of a violent crime, prosecutors said. Sentencing memorandums from both sides also were sealed.