Westfield resident faces kidnapping charges

Westfield resident Gina Artruc, 44, of Old Stage Road, was released on $500 bail yesterday in Greenfield District Court after her arrest in relation to a kidnapping last week.
Artruc was one of seven people arrested for allegedly abducting Branden Stebbins, 19, of Greenfield last Wednesday. Artruc and the others were arraigned yesterday and the case continued until May.
Artruc was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threat to commit a crime, and accessory after the fact.
According to a statement from Montague Police Sgt. Charles Dodge, Stebbins was taken against his will from Energy Park in Greenfield and forced into a vehicle by a man identified as Johnny Lopez. The vehicle was driven by Marcus Thompson. Kyle Holden and Seth Lemieux were passengers in the vehicle. Stebbins was driven to 144 Seventh St. in Turners Falls, where he was confronted and beaten. Artruc, Robin Shafer and Dawn Shafer joined the subjects at the home.
“Branden was knocked tot he ground where he was then punched, kicked and beaten with baseball bats,” stated Dodge. “The assault had been witnessed by a neighbor whom had called this violent attack in to the police department. By the time police arrived the subjects had all left he scene.”
Stebbins was later interviewed by police and said the group accused him of physically assaulting dawn Shafer’s 14 year-old daughter.
Dodge said Stebbins’ hands were duct taped behind his back and he was put into the back of a vehicle following the beating on Seventh Street. The vehicle was driven by Robin Shafer. Lopez, Thompson and Holden were also in the vehicle, according to the report offered by Montague Police.
“Johnny Lopez advised Branden that they were taking him to Montague Plains,” stated Dodge. “Lopez threatened to rape and kill Branden.”
Stebbins was able to cut his hands free using a small knife he had in his back pocket. Stebbins made an attempt to escape when they reached Montague Plains. Police report that when Stebbins opened the back door of the vehicle, Lopez tried to prevent him from escaping. At that point, Stebbins’ arm was outside the vehicle and was run over in the struggle, forcing him out of the vehicle and onto the ground.
“Branden started to run away and Johnny Lopez exited the vehicle and exposed a handgun,” sad Dodge. “Johnny threatened Branden with the gun. Branden continued to run from the scene.”
Stebbins flagged down a vehicle and called 911 on Lake Pleasant road in Montague. Police arrived and Stebbins was transported to Franklin Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries.
Six of the seven suspects were arrested by Montague Police March 24. Holden turned himself in to police March 26.

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