A Lexington County woman reported missing Sunday and found Thursday in Florida were arrested in Florida and charged with blackmail after reportedly leading her husband to believe she was kidnapped, according to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.
Melanie Martin, 40, and Andrew Douglas, 28, are charged with blackmail for conspiring to lead Martin's husband to believe Douglas kidnapped her, according to arrest warrants. Martin’s husband reported her as a missing person Sunday.
Officials say the two individuals are also charged with obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy.
"Douglas left Ms. Martin's husband a voicemail indicating he would reach back out to him to provide information about wiring money to secure Ms. Martin's release," said Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon. "Escambia County, Florida, deputies helped us track the pair down in Pensacola and Martin admitted in writing and verbally that she'd been willingly traveling with Douglas since leaving home Sunday."
More charges are expected to be filed against Martin and Douglas, according to Koon. They were arrested Thursday evening at a Pensacola motel. Security cameras captured images of Martin and Douglas inside a Midlands convenience store Monday morning.
Captain Adam Myrick with the Lexington County Sheriff's Department says it's not the first time they've dealt with a fake kidnapping case but this one is a little unusual.
"In an instance where someone actually makes some kind of deceptive move to say, 'I've been kidnapped, I've been kidnapped against my will, we can make an arrangement for payment for the safe return of the individual,' that's not something we see very much at all," said Myrick.
Martin and Douglas are being held at the Escambia County jail. Investigators plan to extradite them to Lexington County, according to Koon.