DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The FBI has issued arrest warrants and released disturbing details in the armed home invasion and kidnapping of an elderly Durham couple and the theft of more than $150,000 of their cryptocurrency in April.
The incident took place at gunpoint at the couple’s Wells Street home the morning of April 12 after the thieves posed as construction workers and forced their way into the home, according to the Durham Police Department and FBI officials.
The arrest warrants released Thursday for kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping indicate two West Palm Beach, Florida, men are wanted — Jarod Gabriel Seemungal and Remy Ra St. Felix.
CBS 17 has also obtained an FBI criminal complaint filed the same day in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina which said suspects began as early as February targeting retirees who had cryptocurrency and that the accused men even had the license plate number for the husband’s car. A third man is also named in the criminal complaint, but no arrest warrant was issued for him Thursday.
The FBI complaint also reveals the brutality of the kidnapping — with the elderly couple handcuffed with zip-ties, the wife dragged on the floor by her feet and threats made “to cut off (the) husband’s toes and genitalia, to shoot him, and to rape his wife.” The husband was hit in the head during the kidnapping.
Messages sent between those involved identified actual cryptocurrency amounts and their locations, the criminal complaint said. One suspect had a photo of the husband’s North Carolina driver’s license in his email account, the FBI said.
The two suspects also discussed in internet messages how potential victims “have so much” money in accounts that it would be “retirement licks” — the FBI explaining in the complaint that “licks” is slang for a robbery, the complaint said.
The thieves apparently rented a car in Florida and visited the Millennium Hotel in Durham a couple of days before the actual robbery, according to the complaint. Video from a home near the victims’ showed the thieves’ BMW SUV “conducting surveillance” at the couple’s home each of the three days before the kidnapping, the FBI said.
One part of the FBI’s complaint said a person driving a gray 2019 BMW X5 — extremely similar to the SUV the suspects used — visited a Durham Walmart on April 11 to purchase the costumes that allowed thieves to get into the home of the elderly victims.
Walmart records from the Glen School Road store revealed a debit card of one man linked to the robbery showed the purchase of a clipboard, reflective vest, sunglasses and a pair of khaki pants, the FBI said. Video also showed two of the men involved inside the Walmart, the FBI said.
The theft itself is also detailed in the FBI complaint, indicating how the suspects entered the home and took control.
The robbery began when two men dressed as construction workers came to the door of the elderly couple’s home around 7:30 a.m. April 12, the FBI said.
The duo claimed they would be inspecting pipes for damage and told the husband they would be “walking around the house.”
After a few minutes, the pair knocked on the door again and the wife answered the door. The suspects who both had guns then pushed their way inside.
“The men restrained and zip-tied the husband’s hands and the wife’s hands,” the FBI complaint said.
A man armed with a pink gun showed the wife it was loaded by opening the cylinder and then dragged her into a bathroom by her legs, the criminal complaint said.
The husband was taken to his Apple iMac and forced at gunpoint to log in and install a remote desktop application called AnyDesk. A person on the phone with a thief already knew “details about the account without being told,” the FBI complaint said.
The FBI believes the husband’s email account was compromised in the past, allowing the thieves to learn the details ahead of the trip to Durham and the home invasion.
The suspects were able to transfer $156,853 worth of cryptocurrency during the next 45 minutes, the FBI said.
Before leaving, the thieves smashed the couple’s cellphones and the iMac, officials said.
The elderly couple managed to get out of their home and ask neighbors to call 911 for help.
The pair suffered minor injuries and were transported to a nearby hospital, Durham police said.