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Bonds reduced for staged kidnapping
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TROY, Mo. (AP) — An eastern Missouri judge on Thursday reduced the bond for four people accused of staging a kidnapping of a 6-year-old boy in hopes of teaching the child about potential dangers.

Each of the defendants had been ordered jailed on $250,000 cash-only bond. But a Lincoln County judge pared bonds for three of them to $100,000, while the fourth defendant had her bond reduced to $50,000 because of her health considerations, KMOV-TV reported.

Police say the boy’s mother planned the ruse earlier this month to scare the boy, believing he was too nice to people and to teach him about possible danger from strangers.

The mother is charged with felony kidnapping and abuse or neglect of a child. The others are charged with felony kidnapping, felonious restraint, and abuse or neglect of a child.

Police said one of the defendants lured the boy into his pickup truck after the child got off his school bus. That suspect then allegedly sent his cellphone recording of the boy’s acceptance of the ride to one of the three other defendants, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported.

After telling the boy he would never “see his mommy again” and that he would be “nailed to the wall of a shed,” the accused pickup truck’s driver then showed the child a handgun and told him he would hurt him if he didn’t stop crying, the newspaper reported, citing police.

The pickup driver bound the boy’s hands and feet with plastic bags, covered his face with a jacket and drove him blindfolded in the child’s basement, the newspaper said. One of the other defendants removed the boy’s pants and told him he could be sold into “sex slavery,” police said.

The mother’s next court appearance is scheduled for next month, while the co-defendants are to next be in court in April.

An attorney for one of the defendants, who authorities say helped plot the kidnapping with the boy’s mother, has compared the charges against the four to taking care of a “small nail with a sledgehammer.” Attorney Charles James told the newspaper that the woman and other three defendants may be guilty of bad judgment, but not criminal behavior.

The Associated Press is not naming the defendants in order to protect the child’s identity.