Police say Mississippi man called women in night, told victims their family had been kidnapped

Published 4:43 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A Mississippi man will spend six months in prison after admitting to extorting money from women in North Carolina by scaring them during phone calls by claiming their relatives had been kidnapped.

New Hanover Sheriff’s Office investigators and district attorneys office spokesmen said Otis Leslie Howell, 55, of Meridian, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to four counts of extortion and one county of attempted extortion on Wednesday.

Howell called five women in New Hanover County and Onslow County, North Carolina, late at night and claimed he had kidnapped female members of the victims’ families.

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Then he “attempted to force the victims to communicate to him as if they were being sexually assaulted,” WECT-TV reported.

Investigators said an additional seven women across the country had also been called by Howell and that he had committed additional harassing and threatening calls dating back to a period of between 1986 and 2017.