NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – New Braunfels police have discovered an alarming series of reported aggravated kidnappings never happened and the three people who reported those cases lied to them.
After more than a month investigating the cases, three people were arrested Tuesday.
Michael Neumann, 35, Sabrina Quintero, 21, and Rebecca Palmer, 25, were all charged with making a false report to a police officer, a misdemeanor. Quintero faces an additional felony charge of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
On Jan. 16 and 17, New Braunfels police said they received two reports of a man with a gun threatening drivers and forcing them to take him places in their cars.
The first case was reported outside the McKenna Event Center on West San Antonio Street. Police said Neumann told officers a man with a gun forced his way into Neumann's car and instructed him to drive. They said Neumann told investigators he struggled with the gunman, who then ran away along the I-35 frontage road toward Ruekle Road.
Later that day, Neumann's wife posted a description of the alleged gunman on social media.
The next day, Quintero told police a man fitting that same description entered her car with a firearm and instructed her to drive to Houston. She went on to tell police that she spent nearly two hours driving around in circles on rural roads near the New Braunfels Airport before she finally stabbed the man in his leg and ran to a bar on FM 758.
The reports were taken seriously by police and the community at large. New Braunfels police, the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety all worked together to investigate and launched several large-scale searches.
They determined the aggravated kidnapping reports were false, and when they confronted Neumann and Quintero, they said both admitted they had lied to officers.
A third kidnapping claim had also been reported on Jan. 20. In that case, Palmer had been involved in a hit and run crash on the Main Plaza. Police said she used the kidnapping story as a way to avoid charges.
The New Braunfels Police Department said making a false report to officers is a serious offense that wastes the time of its detectives, who could be investigating real cases.