Convicted killer arrested after police standoff, charged with kidnapping

Convicted killer arrested after police standoff, charged with kidnapping
Police responded to a call of a kidnapping just after midnight Sunday morning. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Police responded to a call of a kidnapping just after midnight Sunday morning. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
John McLeaney (Source: LMDC)
John McLeaney (Source: LMDC)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A convicted killer was arrested Sunday morning at his home in the Pleasure Ridge Park area after a standoff with police.

"This is an interesting case," Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders said in a press conference Sunday. "It's a bizarre case."

John McLeaney, 46, was taken into custody just before 5 a.m. and faces a long list of charges after allegedly kidnapping a woman, sexually assaulting her and holding her in his garage. McLeaney previously served more than 12 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in Nebraska for the death of a 17-year-old girl.

According to an arrest citation, McLeaney impersonated a police officer, activating emergency lights on the vehicle he was driving, in order to pull the woman over. Police say he was wearing a badge and told the woman to come with him, forcing her into the back of his vehicle. He then drove to a UPS parking area where he zip-tied her hands behind her back.

Then, McLeaney drove to the Cricket Wireless store on Taylorsville Road, where he used to work for an independent contractor and where the woman is currently employed. He was able to bypass the alarm system and enter the business. He left, drove around and returned to the store. He then used the woman's keys and tampered with the store's video camera and stole the safe, police records said.

The store's manager became suspicious about the alarm system and called police.

"The owner, or manager, knew there was something that just wasn't right," Sanders said. "We responded at 10:47 and found the door open."

Police say McLeaney then returned to the the UPS area, where he sexually assaulted the woman, before driving to his home on Columbine Drive.

While McLeaney had been driving around, police investigating the Cricket robbery realized the crime was similar to four other Cricket store break-ins McLeaney had been charged with, so they went to his house.

"I'm just glad that we were able to do some good police work and get to that house before he was able to kill her," Sanders said.

McLeaney drove into his garage, while police were on his front porch and barricaded himself inside with the woman.

"This guy is a violent offender, and we're just lucky the subject, the person he kidnapped, was not injured," Sanders said.

McLeaney allegedly threatened to kill the victim with a gun if she told police what had happened. Police had McLeaney's fiance text him and ask him to talk. When he opened the door to talk to them, the woman ran out. Police say that was the first time they realized a person had been kidnapped.

An officer tried to make contact with McLeaney, who raised the overhead garage door while pointing a gun at his head and threatened officers, putting "officer's lives at risk of serious physical injury or death," according to the arrest slip.

"I'm a firm believer that this guy is more than just a burglar," Sanders said. "I think he's a very vicious person."

After a five-hour standoff, the LMPD SWAT team responded and fired tear gas into the garage. McLeaney was shot with non-lethal weapons before he was arrested.

Online records show that McLeaney was convicted of manslaughter in Nebraska in 1997. He had been charged with murder in connection to the strangulation of a 17-year-old girl in 1987, when McLeaney also would have been 17, according to a report by The Omaha World-Herald. McLeaney pleaded no contest to the reduced manslaughter charge.

The World-Herald reported that McLeaney maintained he did not strangle the girl. He said another man, reportedly the former president of the Hell's Angels in Omaha, killed the girl after she was raped by multiple people. McLeaney was released from prison in 2010.

Earlier this year in March, McLeaney was arrested and charged with four burglaries while employed by a security company as an officer. Police said McLeaney burglarized three different Cricket Wireless stores, each time, taking cash from the business.

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Sanders says a lot of questions need to be asked about how the justice system handled McLeaney.

"Everybody should held accountable," Sanders said. "I hope they give this due diligence and they don't release this guy again."

McLeaney's finance spoke briefly to WAVE 3 News Sunday night and said she was glad no one was seriously hurt during the alleged kidnapping and standoff. She said she hopes McLeaney gets the help he needs.

McLeaney is charged with robbery, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, terroristic threatening, robbery, impersonating a peace officer, intimidating a witness and sexual abuse.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

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