Affidavit: Meth users terrorized accused ‘snitch’ with switchblade, hot hammer

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Left to right: Sean P. McCawley, Stephanie A. Wiggins, Jason V. Spaniol.

The victim in a Lawrence kidnapping case told police that three fellow meth users accused him of “snitching” and held him in a basement for hours while they threatened him with a switchblade and a smoking-hot hammer.

The man’s allegations are summarized in a police affidavit filed in the cases of Sean P. McCawley, 42, and Jason V. Spaniol, 41, both of Lawrence, and Stephanie A. Wiggins, 38, of Shawnee. The Journal-World requested and recently received the affidavit through Douglas County District Court.

Police interviewed the victim, a 34-year-old Lawrence man, at the Douglas County Jail in November 2018, a day after he was arrested on suspicion of multiple counts of drug distribution, jail records show.

According to the affidavit:

The victim told police that about a week and a half earlier he’d gone to McCawley’s house to buy $300 of methamphetamine for an acquaintance and ended up held against his will there for around three hours.

The victim met McCawley downstairs. McCawley told him to call off his ride, then took away his phone and called Spaniol and Wiggins to come over.

All three suspects reportedly smoked meth at the onset of their interrogation of the victim, during which they blamed him for pending drug charges against them.

The victim said they accused him of “snitching” and threatened that he was going to be there all night answering questions about what he’d told law enforcement.

He said Spaniol then picked up a butane torch and a hammer, and heated the claw end of the hammer until it started smoking. Spaniol held the hot hammer within “centimeters” of the victim’s leg and told him, “people always talk when you put this (the hammer) on your leg.”

The victim said Wiggins sat down next to him with a 6-inch “stiletto” style switchblade knife, which she opened and closed multiple times and demanded, “Tell me what the (expletive) you told them.” She told him she intended to find out or he wouldn’t “walk out of this place alive.”

He said Wiggins also hit him in the face multiple times.

The victim said that the suspects told him he owed them $140, which he gave them. He told police he didn’t ask many questions but speculated it could be a past debt to McCawley.

The victim told police that he believed that if he’d tried to leave, one, if not all, of the suspects would have assaulted him. He said he was “terrified of them torturing me.”

“When he was told he could leave, (the victim) jumped over the couch and ran out of the house,” the affidavit said. He went to a nearby business and called an acquaintance to pick him up there.

The police department’s investigation also included retrieving the victim’s Facebook Messenger correspondence and talking to two other people who were at the house that evening.

According to the affidavit, Spaniol admitted to investigators that the suspects questioned the victim “a lot about whether he was working for the police” but denied threatening him with the hot hammer. Spaniol said, “I don’t think I threatened to burn him, but I might have… I was holding a torch and a glass.”

Wiggins told police that the victim was never tortured or held against his will.

The affidavit doesn’t include any police questioning of McCawley.

The three suspects were arrested in February. Their court cases remain pending.

McCawley is charged with two felony counts of kidnapping and one felony count of criminal threat, plus one misdemeanor count of criminal deprivation of property. He’s jailed on $75,000 bond.

Spaniol is charged with kidnapping, criminal threat and aggravated assault, all felonies. He is also jailed on $75,000 bond.

Wiggins is charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault and criminal threat, all felonies, plus misdemeanor battery. Court records indicate she was granted a $75,000 personal recognizance bond and released on house arrest with permission to go to work.

In his pending criminal case, the victim is free on $50,000 bond with pretrial monitoring, including a GPS device and drug detection patch.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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