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Laguna Man and Woman Held on Extortion Charges

Times Staff Writer

A West Hollywood woman was tied up and held at gunpoint in a Laguna Beach home for more than four hours Friday night by a woman and a male companion who allegedly attempted to extort $31,000 from the victim’s husband, police said.

Shirley R. Uwanawich, 28, was released from the hillside duplex at 2882 Alexander Road about 10 p.m. after Laguna Beach police, assisted by the Orange County Sheriff Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team, convinced her captors to surrender.

No Shots Fired

Suzanne Cameron, 39, who lives at the Alexander Road address, and Sean Kennedy, 28, also of Laguna Beach, were arrested on suspicion of kidnaping, extortion and assault, said Police Sgt. Ray Lardie. The two were being held Saturday in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail each, Lardie said.

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No shots were fired and no one was seriously injured during the standoff, although Uwanawich received minor cuts and bruises to her face and lower chest, Lardie said.

A small-caliber handgun that police believe was used in the kidnaping was found inside the residence.

Shortly after the surrender, police discovered a warrant out of West Hollywood charging Uwanawich with grand theft, Lardie said. She was arrested, then released late Saturday after posting 10% of a $15,000 bail.

Investigators said the incident began about 6 p.m. Friday when Uwanawich’s husband, Michael Marks, dropped her off in front of Cameron’s residence. Lardie said Uwanawich apparently went to the house to discuss money that she owed Cameron. Investigators are not sure why or how much money Uwanawich owed the woman, Lardie said.

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Telephoned the House

About 6:30 p.m. Marks telephoned the house to find out when he should pick up his wife, police said. A man who answered the telephone told Marks his wife was tied up with a gun to her head and would not be released until he paid them $31,000, police said.

Marks instead called police, who with the Sheriff Department’s SWAT team surrounded the house.

Lardie said telephone contact was made with the captors about 8 p.m. A police negotiator finally convinced the two to surrender about two hours later.

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Police said Cameron is a self-employed real estate agent. Neighbors said she moved into the Alexander Road address about four months ago.

Kennedy was described by friends and acquaintances as a former merchant seaman from England who moved to Laguna Beach about three years ago. They said he has worked as a laborer and landscaper and considers himself proficient in the martial arts. They said they’ve never known him to use or keep a gun.


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