Couple sentenced for teens’ abduction|[5/13/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 15, 2006

JACKSON – The couple accused of abducting teens from a river overlook a year and two weeks ago was sentenced to prison time here Friday.

Ronald Wayne Shugart, 39, of Coolidge, Texas, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on one count of kidnapping and 12 years and five months for one count of carjacking.

U.S. District Judge David Bramlette ordered the sentences served concurrently.

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Annette Myrtis Thiem, 42, of Florence, S.C., received a nine-year sentence on the same two charges. She was also ordered to participate in a drug rehabilitation program and to receive mental health treatment.

The pair was also ordered to pay $4,873 in restitution to the U.S. District Court Clerk in Jackson for damages to the victim’s car during the kidnapping.

Separate juries had convicted Shugart in January of the two counts he faced. Thiem, tried separately, was also convicted that month.

They were reportedly staying in a hotel near the Mississippi River when, on May 1, they walked to the Louisiana Circle overlook and forced Shane Gilmore, 17, and Heather Pritchard, 15, both Vicksburg residents, to drive away with them.

&#8220I am very disappointed with the sentencing,” said Heather’s mother, Elisa Pritchard, who was at the sentencing. &#8220It’s still hard for my daughter. Sometimes she has a hard time sleeping. It’s going to take time for her to get over it.”

She also noted that Shugart and Thiem had children. &#8220They are both parents,” Pritchard said. &#8220How can you be a parent and take somebody’s child?”.

The teens were eating breakfast in a car on a Sunday morning before going to church. They were reported missing by their families later in the day.

Heather’s Dodge Neon was driven to South Carolina, where it was involved in an accident on Interstate 26 near Laurens. There, Shane freed himself, fled to a state trooper who had responded to the accident and told the officer he and Heather were captives.

Thiem and Shugart were arrested at the scene.

Bramlette ordered Shugart to participate in a drug rehabilitation program and specified he will face eight years of supervision after his release.

Louisiana Circle and Navy Circle overlooks are federal property, part of the Vicksburg National Military Park. Kidnapping is also a federal offense.