Who is Lawrence Handley? Louisiana millionaire hires 2 men to kidnap ex-wife, pleads guilty
Lawrence Handley hired two kidnappers who drowned while being chased by cops, leaving the ex-wife in the van to be rescued
A Louisiana millionaire has pleaded guilty to concocting a plot in 2017 to have his ex-wife kidnapped. Initially, Lawrence Michael Handley pleaded not guilty, but then he took a deal offered by prosecutors that would see him serve between 15 and 35 years in jail on July 27, 2021. A recovering alcoholic, he and his ex-wife Schanda divorced in 2017 amidst allegations of death threats. In August 2017, he ordered two men to kidnap his wife, but the plot went very wrong, very fast.
Amid the surge in crime recorded all over the US, several attempted kidnapping stories have come to light. On July 13, we reported on the kidnapping plot by Iranian intelligence, targeting journalist Masih Alinejad. Days later, Dolores Lopez in Queens made headlines after she saved her son from being kidnapped by pulling him from the window, seconds before the kidnapper sped off in a car. In June, a Florida man kidnapped a woman and forced her to perform a threesome for OnlyFans.
Luckily as with the case of Lopez, it appears the victim of the kidnapping was safe, albeit in a rather bizarre fashion. Schanda was rescued from the van by cops after the kidnappers abandoned it, in an attempt to flee from the police. They eventually drowned in a canal, meaning the plot was a failure. If you want to know more about Handley, here's everything we know about him.
Who is Lawrence Handley?
Beyond the kidnapping plot, little is known about Handley. As with many other millionaires, Handley has a limited public presence on social media. The 53-year-old New Orleans native was a healthcare business giant who owned numerous firms. He launched companies that sold vitamins, energy supplements and calcium creams. Those quickly turned him into a millionaire by the time he was 30.
The fame and fortune though were too much for Handley. He quickly turned to alcohol, which led to alcoholism. "You give someone like me too much money and no accountability, it’s a recipe for disaster," he said in a 2008 interview. He was able to turn his life around, with the process of rehabilitation leading him to found the Townsend Recovery treatment centers. By 2015, the centers were doing so well all over the South of the USA, Handley sold them for more than $21M. A well-known community member, Handley was also running the Handley Family Foundation with his wife. The foundation would raise and donate money for numerous causes like cancer patients.
All that changed though after he and his wife divorced. Handley and Schanda got married in 2006, and all seemed well with them right up to the spring of 2017. It's unclear what exactly led to the divorce, but it soon turned volatile after multiple restraining orders were filed in 2017. In one of the orders, Handley alleged his wife was trying to have him killed. It is believed Handley was high on meth and cocaine when he concocted the plot to have Schanda kidnapped and tortured, but it is unclear if he wanted to kill her. Handley hired Sylvester Bracey and Montreal Haynes to carry out the deeds.
The kidnapping isn't the first time Handley has faced legal troubles. Federal court records show he was charged in 2005 for submitting a fake $22,000 check to a charter airplane company. In 2004, a Shreveport building materials company sued Handley for allegedly failing to pay a nearly $3,000 bill. The latter case doesn't appear to have been resolved yet. But those cases are small cheese for Handley now.
Kidnapping goes wrong, Schanda rescued
During a sunny afternoon on August 6, Bracey and Haynes forced their way into Handley's home in Lafayette and tied Schanda up. They put her in the back of their truck and began driving away. Reportedly, they threatened to rape and kill Schanda. On the way to Baton Rouge where Handley was waiting, they were near Port Allen when they got stuck in traffic. The jam on Interstate 10 led the duo to drive on the shoulder of the interstate, grabbing the attention of a nearby police patrol.
Cops then began to pursue Bracey and Haynes, who sped up before turning right at Port Allen, into an industrial fabrication facility. The van got stuck in the mud, and the duo abandoned it and ran away. Reportedly, they drowned in a canal nearby, and their bodies were found the next day. Schanda was rescued from the back of the truck. It's unclear how or when Handley learned of the failure, but police found him on August 11 in a hotel in Slidell, just outside of New Orleans.
At the time, Handley had reportedly chartered a private plane to flee the country. Instead, he was taken into custody. Initially, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but a judge in 2018 ruled that he was mentally competent to stand trial. That led to an aggravated kidnapping charge, that would entail life in prison. Prosecutors offered him a deal that would mean 15-35 years, which Handley took. On July 27, he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree kidnapping and one count of attempted second-degree kidnapping.