Two men and a woman were arrested this week on kidnapping and torture charges for burning the owner of a lucrative medical marijuana dispensary with a blowtorch, then cutting off his penis in an attempt to force him to disclose where he supposedly had buried bags of cash in the desert, authorities said.
Ryan Kevorkian, 34, and Naomi Kevorkian, 33, were arrested Friday in Fresno; a third suspect, Hossein Nayeri, 34, was arrested Thursday by FBI agents in Prague and will face extradition proceedings.
The three — along with 34-year-old Kyle Handley, who was arrested last year — all face the possibility of life in prison without parole if convicted.
Handley is a marijuana grower who supplied the victim’s clinic, according to authorities. He, along with other growers, had accompanied the victim, whose name has not been released, on an “extravagant and expensive trip” to Las Vegas, authorities said.
When Handley returned from the trip, he allegedly told his co-defendants that the victim was “extremely wealthy” and the four began plotting to rob him, according to a joint statement from the Newport Beach Police Department and the Orange County district attorney’s office.
The four are accused of watching the victim’s house for weeks and observing him drive to the desert, where he had been discussing a possible investment deal. The defendants mistakenly concluded that he had been burying money, police and prosecutors said.
On Oct. 2, 2012, authorities allege, the four went to the victim’s home with the intent of robbing him. Once there, they severely beat the man. They then placed him and his female roommate in zip tie handcuffs and took them from the home in a van.
They drove to the area in the desert where they believed the money was buried, according to authorities. After allegedly burning the male victim with a blowtorch and sexually mutilating him, authorities said, the assailants poured bleach on him in an effort to destroy any DNA evidence connecting them to the crime.
They then left both victims on the side of the road, taking the male victim’s penis with them so that it could not be reattached, according to police and prosecutors.
The female victim, still bound in zip ties, ran over a mile in the dark and flagged down a police car. She was unharmed; her name has not been released. The male victim spent “an extensive period of time in the hospital recovering from his injuries,” authorities said.
When police canvassed the neighborhood where the victim lived shortly after the kidnapping, a neighbor reported seeing a suspicious car. That car, authorities allege, was registered to Handley. Police found evidence of the crime at his home, according to the statement.
Authorities said they linked Nayeri to the crime through DNA present on that evidence. “Through extensive investigation,” the statement says, police linked the two Kevorkians to previously unidentified DNA profiles found on evidence.