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Vernon Helmick

HUNTINGTON - A couple described by police as homeless were charged with kidnapping a man Saturday night in downtown Huntington and seeking money for his release.

Olivia Blake Day, 21, and Vernon Dale Helmick, 42, were jailed at 12:05 p.m. Sunday after authorities in Cabell County charged them with kidnapping.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court, the couple kidnapped a Huntington man at about 10 p.m. Saturday in the alley of the 900 block of 5th Avenue in Huntington.

The victim said he was struck in the head several times before being threatened with death. He was then led by the couple to a church in the 1100 block of 5th Avenue and was held captive until Sunday morning.

The victim told police that his boyfriend, who was in Atlanta, Georgia, is wealthy and the couple wanted $5,000 for the victim's safe release.

The couple continuously beat the victim throughout the night and threatened to cut him up and throw him into the river if their demands were not met, according to the complaint.

Early Sunday morning, the victim and the suspects took a cab to Walgreens in the 1100 block of 16th Street in an attempt to get money from Western Union. Helmick apparently went inside with the victim while Day waited in the cab.

While inside the Walgreens, the victim and Helmick were informed the store would only do a wire transfer of $300 or less, so they came back to the cab and traveled to the Kroger store on 1st Street. The victim told police he was able to get Helmick to agree to two transactions in the amount of $2,500 each.

"The victim was able to escape after the cab driver called 911 and Officer Joe Denning went to the Kroger," Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial said. "The officer was able to get the victim away from the suspects and make an arrest before any transfer could occur."

Day and Helmick remain in the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville, and no bond has been set.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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