BARRE — With five sheriff’s deputies keeping a watchful eye due to his escape from custody in February, Jonathan Henry was arraigned on charges alleging he blackmailed a man for $10,000 after a sex act.
Henry, 29, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Washington County criminal court in Barre to felony kidnapping, felony extortion and a charge of simple assault. A felony kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Henry was ordered held on $250,000 bail, but he is already being held without bail at the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury since he was brought into court in February on a probation violation stemming from the kidnapping and extortion charges.
State police say the day after he was in court in February, Henry was receiving treatment at Central Vermont Medical Center when he escaped. He was on the run for 2½ hours before being taken into custody near the River Run Manor Mobile Home Park off Route 302 in Berlin. His lawyer, Rosie Chase, said at the time that he has advanced-stage kidney failure and has to receive dialysis several times a week. Henry told the court he’d been told he had only 18 months to live.
According to the Vermont State Police affidavit for Thursday’s charges, state police at the Middlesex barracks received a complaint Jan. 30 from a Middlebury man who initially lodged the complaint at the New Haven barracks. State police say the man claimed he was assaulted Jan. 27 somewhere in East Montpelier, where he met Henry after the two communicated on the online marketplace Craigslist.org.
The man told state police he met Henry at Dudley’s Store on Route 2 and followed him to a spot near a construction site at East Montpelier Elementary School. The man then got into Henry’s car and Henry proceeded to drive around on some dirt roads while the man performed oral sex on him, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, Henry took two photographs of the sex act on his cellphone, unbeknownst to the man. Henry then drove to a dead-end road and told the man to undress and get in the backseat of the vehicle, which the man told police he did willingly. State police reported Henry then came to the backseat and pointed a gun, pressed it against the man’s temple and told him he was going to kill him. Henry then punched the man in the face multiple times, struck him in the face with the handgun and threw him into a snowbank naked, according to the affidavit.
When a snowplow approached, Henry had the man get back into the car. State police say the man had visible injuries to the left side of his face with bruising around his left eye and scrapes on his face, neck and left shoulder. Later, it was discovered the man had a broken bone on the left side of his face.
Henry then stole $40 out of the man’s pants and drove him back to his car and took more money out of his wallet, which the man said was about $80, according to police.
Henry told the man he would expose the photos to the man’s wife and employer unless the man gave him $10,000. Henry proceeded to photograph the man’s driver’s license with his cellphone and told the man he now knew where he lived, police said. Henry threatened that if the man went to the police, he would come to the man’s home, kill his wife and mutilate the man.
The man and Henry then went to the Vermont State Employees Credit Union, where Henry gave the man account information and told him to wire $10,000 to Henry’s account, police said. If the man refused, Henry threatened to send someone to shoot his wife.
The two then went to the Green Mountain Mall in Berlin, police said, where the man bought Henry a Playstation gaming console and two games for $529. State police say Henry drove the man back to his car and the man wired $10,000 to Henry’s account the next morning.
The man said he went to the state police after he had received several text messages from Henry saying he wanted another $5,000 or else he would go to the man’s boss. The man told state police his wife fled the state in fear of her safety because of Henry’s threats.
State police reported VSECU confirmed $10,000 had been moved into Henry’s account and that $9,000 of it had been withdrawn the same day.
On Jan. 31, state police executed a search warrant on Henry’s residence in East Montpelier and the vehicle believed to have been used in the incident, and reported finding a Sig Sauer 1911 black air pistol and 18 $100 bills.
Henry was convicted in April 2012 of assault and robbery with a weapon, a felony; unlawful trespass; and marijuana possession of less than 2 ounces.
According to court records, he and two other men entered the home of a Plainfield couple in 2011 and robbed them at gunpoint. He was given a sentence of two to eight years, all suspended except one year to serve, and six months’ home confinement. After his incarceration, Henry was placed on probation.
Sgt. Walter Smith with the state police said in an email Thursday that Henry’s escape is still under investigation.
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