Kidnapping charges laid
When a press release said all four suspects involved in a kidnapping, reported to police on April 15, were known to police, they weren’t exaggerating, especially about one of them.
Two of the four men, Michael Andrew Joseph Fitzgerald, 32, and Craig Anthony Niedermayer, 35, the first arrested at the Ferndale area residence where the victim was held, the other the next day, have been charged with kidnapping along with two brothers, Francois, 24, (also known as Frankie) and Dillan Meerholz, 22, who remained at large until they turned themselves in at the RCMP station at 11:30 p.m. April 17.
As the investigation continues, more charges are anticipated.
The South African-born elder Meerholz brother was out on bail in Prince George early last year when he was arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency on an outstanding deportation order.
Frankie and Dillan immigrated to Canada in 1999 when Frankie was 12. Slated to live with relatives, Frankie wound up in the foster care system.
In November of 2008, after amassing a variety of criminal convictions, he was ordered deported, but the federal government stayed the conviction for 18 months, giving the young man a second chance, with conditions, one of which included keeping clean of any more brushes with the law.
The opportunity was squandered when Meerholz garnered more convictions, and the deportation order was reinstated.
According to police, Meerholz was a member of the Game Tight Soldiers and wore the first piece of a three-part patch Renegade initiates must earn.
Dillan also has a record, including assault, and has been linked with the Game Tight Soldiers, say police.
Cpl. Craig Douglass, Prince George RCMP media liaison, said he can’t really say if either Meerholz brother is still linked with these gangs.
“But he (Frankie) is associated with organized crime. This incident was drug-related and certainly criminal in nature,” he said.
A search of the Ferndale property where the victim was held turned up a small grow op as well as stolen property.
In a press release, police say the offences are drug-related and targeted.
The adult male victim, who police believe was held for several days, was taken by ambulance to the hospital to be treated for serious but non-life threatening injuries.