A Calabasas woman who needed money to repay debts arranged the kidnapping of her 5-year-old son, hoping her unsuspecting husband would pay the $200,000 ransom, authorities said Monday.
Rajvinder Kaur, 41, is to be arraigned in Malibu Municipal Court today on charges of kidnapping, child endangerment and burglary, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Three men have also been arrested in connection with the case.
Kaur's son was abducted from his parents' house in the 4200 block of Temma Court on Aug. 8. The boy, who wasn't harmed, was left in a Costco store parking lot in Oxnard a night after he was abducted.
Kaur's husband is not a suspect in the crime, and no ransom was ever paid, said Sgt. Ken Mays of the Major Crimes Unit. The couple own a restaurant, he added.
Investigators said Kaur had debts in her native India, although they said they did not know what those debts were for or why she allegedly resorted to the kidnapping. But detectives believe she owed at least $100,000, because she would have needed a significant sum to pay the actual kidnappers, said Capt. Robert Malone, who heads the Major Crimes Unit.
Authorities would not comment on what led them to Kaur. But Malone said they identified the kidnappers early in the investigation by examining the rope used to tie up the boys' parents.
After noticing the rope appeared to be brand new, detectives canvassed area hardware and outdoor goods stores in hope of finding a match. Similar rope was found at a nearby Big 5 sporting goods store, Malone said. Investigators were then able to identify two suspects by reviewing video footage from the store's security cameras, he said.
Malone would not disclose other details of the investigation.
The three men were all arrested last week and face kidnapping, child endangerment and burglary charges, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff's officials identified the men as Tajinder Singh, 36, of Fountain Valley; Balwinder Singh, 25, of Fresno; and Jaswinder Singh, 31, who was arrested just outside of Denver and will be extradited to Los Angeles.
The men are not related to one another, but investigators believe Kaur knew them.
"You just don't dig up people to kidnap your son," Malone said. "It's safe to say she knew these people prior to the incident."
Kaur was arrested last week and was being held Monday at Twin Towers Jail downtown. No bail amount has been set and she has not been appointed a public defender, authorities said.
The family lives in Oak Creek Estates, an exclusive community protected by security guards. About 8 p.m. on Aug. 8, two men wearing Army fatigues, gloves and ski masks and armed with handguns slipped into the couple's house, where the parents lived with the boy.
The gunmen tied and handcuffed the parents and left a ransom letter.
Investigators found a back door was unlocked and that the alarm was not activated, Mays said. During the next 19 hours, the kidnappers made several calls to the parents' house and these were traced to several cell phone numbers, he said.
If convicted, all four suspects face up to life in prison, Mays said.