NJ man kidnapped by ‘bumbling idiots’ closing pet shop where it happened
Jeff Muller — the Sussex County man mistaken for another person with the same name, beaten, kidnapped and stuffed into the back seat of a car for a 1,200 trip to Missouri — is closing up the pet supply store outside of which the bizarre encounter began.
The New Jersey Herald reported on the decision by Jeff Muller and wife Gail Muller to close J&G Pet Food and Supply after 33 years. The Herald article focuses on the couples' bittersweet decision to close the store after decades of serving the Newton-area community, and doesn't mention the kidnapping.
"I was crying yesterday when a customer came in," Gail Muller said told the paper. "It's going to be hard."
They Mullers told the Herald they lost a lot of business when Pet Smart moved into nearby Hampton, and struggled to compete. They decided to close up shop over the summer, they said.
That was just months before the fifth and final defendant in Jeff Muller's kidnapping pleaded guilty — ending a years-long legal saga in which details of the strange, twisted plot leading to the mistaken-identity abduction were revealed.
Authorities have said William Barger arranged for several other men to kidnap a Bergen County money broker named Jeff Muller — who has no relation to his Sussex County namesake. Barger hatched the deal with a Missouri businessman named Roy Slates, as a way to get back some of the $500,000 Slates lost in a failed deal with the Bergen Muller. The kidnappers were expected to get a share of the proceeds.
Authorities also say Barger falsely claimed he was the son of Hells Angel motorcycle club founder Ralph "Sonny" Barger.
The car broke down in Laze Ozark, Mo., and the Sussex County Muller escaped.
The Associated Press reported in 2010 Vernon County Sheriff Ron Peckman described the three western Missouri men as "bumbling idiots."