Thursday, December 15, 2016

St. Louis Tanning Mogul, Four Others Indicted on Kidnapping Allegations

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 2:16 PM

click to enlarge Todd Beckman, shown in a clip from an advertisement, is charged with kidnapping. - IMAGE VIA YOUTUBE
  • Image via YouTube
  • Todd Beckman, shown in a clip from an advertisement, is charged with kidnapping.
A St. Louis tanning mogul and four others carried out a brutal kidnapping, torturing their victim for three days with a Taser, repeated beatings and death threats, according to federal prosecutors.

Todd Beckman, the founder of BAM Brands, and his co-defendants were indicted on Wednesday on federal kidnapping and weapons charges.

Allegations in court papers describe a cold-blooded operation that only ended when the victim's mother flew to Missouri from Florida to pay a $27,000 ransom.

Beckman helped set it all in motion, authorities say.

The 52-year-old Fenton resident had been the face of his business, appearing tanned and styled in commercials for the brand's suite of fitness and lifestyle companies — TanCo, MassageLuXe, Xist Fitness and LifeXist. But authorities allege he also played a lead role in an almost unimaginable marathon of nightmarish violence.

Prosecutors claim he began plotting last month with 24-year-old Blake Laubinger of Pacific to "get" the victim, whom they accused of stealing from Laubinger, authorities say.

On November 21, Laubinger and his 26-year-old brother, Caleb Laubinger, sneaked into the victim's home in Maplewood and waited, authorities say.

When the man arrived home, the brothers ambushed him, binding his hands with zip ties, according to the complaint.

"Defendants threatened to kill (the victim) if he screamed," prosecutors wrote.

They allegedly drove him to Blake Laubinger's home, dragged him down to the basement and further bound him with handcuffs and duct tape. The brothers were soon joined by Beckman and 55-year-old Kerry Roades, prosecutors say.

"Defendant Kerry Roades suggested they shoot (the victim), chop him up, and shrink wrap him," prosecutors wrote. "Defendant Todd Beckman responded that they should just shoot (the victim)."

During the following days, the suspects are accused of pistol-whipping the man and shocking him with a Taser. Beckman bought shrink wrap and a heat gun on November 22 at Lowe's and threatened to wrap up the victim and shoot him, authorities say.

Later that day, a fifth man, 24-year-old Zachary Smith, joined them and helped haul the man in a rented Dodge Ram to Beckman's land in the 900 block of Gregory Lane in Fenton, according to prosecutors. The property is in a wooded area just west of Bud Weil Memorial Park.

Authorities say the men dragged the victim into a shipping container, where they held him hostage. Beckman allegedly put a gun to the man's head and threatened to kill him.

The kidnappers wanted money, and they began calling the victim's parents in Florida, demanding the ransom as they held him at gunpoint, authorities say.

The victim's mother arrived on November 23 to make the payment. Before Beckman and the others would let him go, they forced the man to sign a document and threatened to kill him if he told anyone what they'd done, prosecutors say.

They allegedly then drove him in a St. Louis Tan Co. van to the Gravois Bluffs shopping center and released him.

The men were arrested on Thursday, about three weeks after the alleged kidnapping, and have been in custody ever since.

The daily operations of BAM Brands, which extend across eleven states, have been under the control of its chief operating officer since April, according to a news release from the company.

Beckman remains an investor, but his "personal legal issues" won't affect the daily operations, the statement says.



We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.


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