Kidnapping and Murder charges leveled at six Joplin area residents by Federal Investigators; Nearly one year to the day body of homicide victim discovered on Cherry Road property in Greenwood area

Joplin News First

VIDEO DIARY OF JULY 28, 2020, 3517 CHERRY ROAD IN NEWTON COUNTY, MISSOURI.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Almost one year ago to the day, July 28, 2020, the body of Michael James Hall, of Carthage, Mo., was discovered on property in the Greenwood area of Newton County at 3517 Cherry Road. Authorities arrived to the property that morning with a search warrant and they were met with gunfire from Freddie Tilton, 48, who was taken into Federal Custody a short time later.

Tilton has been in Federal Custody since that date and is now facing charges in a separate case for the Violent Kidnapping of a female he knew. The victim in the case identified as S.T. was lured to the Boonslick Lodge, July 19, 2020, where Tilton was lying in wait and violently attacked her. She barely got away, then hotel staff alerted authorities. Tilton got away that night out a window. But July 28, 2020 he did not.

After Tilton was taken into custody the morning of July 28, 2020, on Cherry Road. Neosho SRT, ODET and Joplin Police searched more than 100 acres and located the body of homicide victim, Hall. However authorities outline that Hall was not killed there. He was transported there after his death.

CONSPIRACY AND MURDER, SIX PARTICIPATED SAY FEDS

Six from the Joplin area have been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in a Kidnapping and Murder conspiracy that resulted in the death of Michael James Hall, of Carthage, Mo.. The six were charged in a five-count indictment returned by a Federal Grand Jury in US District Court on Thursday, July 29, 2021. All six are in custody.

  • Carla Jo Ward, 47, of Joplin, Mo.
  • Amy Kay Thomas, 38, of Webb City, Mo.
  • Freddie Lewis Tilton, 48, of Joplin, Mo.
  • Russell Eugene Hurtt, 49, of Greenwood, Mo.
  • Lawrence William Vaughan, 49, of Newton County, Mo.
  • James B. Gibson, 39, of Neosho, Mo. (taken into custody by FBI in Louisiana, no image of defendant)
(L-R) Carla Jo Ward, 47, of Joplin, Mo. courtesy Jasper County Sheriff’s office; Amy Kay Thomas, 38, of Webb City, Mo., courtesy Greene County Sheriff’s office; Freddie Lewis Tilton, 48, of Joplin, Mo., courtesy Greene County Sheriff’s office; Russell Eugene Hurtt, 49, of Greenwood, Mo., courtesy Newton County Mo. Sheriff’s office; Lawrence William Vaughan, 49, of Newton County, Mo., courtesy Greene County Sheriff’s office. (Not pictured James B. Gibson, 39, of Neosho, Mo. Photo not available, taken into custody by FBI in Louisiana Thursday).

The federal indictment alleges that each of the six defendants participated in the conspiracy that led to Hall’s death. Hall and Tilton had an ongoing argument online in July 2020.

WARNING, GRAPHIC CONTENT: According to the indictment, Carla Jo Ward picked up Michael Hall and took him to Lawrence Vaughan’s residence, Highway HH west of Neosho. Freddie Tilton, Amy Thomas, and James Gibson arrived at Vaughan’s residence in the early morning hours of July 15, 2020. They bound Hall’s hands with handcuffs, and duct tape was placed around his mouth and other parts of his body. In Vaughan and Ward’s presence, the indictment says, Thomas cut Hall repeatedly with a knife and Gibson beat Hall with a club. Tilton fatally shot Hall in the head. They wrapped Hall’s body in plastic wrap and transported it to Hurtt’s property.

NEWTON COUNTY SHERIFF CHRIS JENNINGS TALKS WITH JOPLIN NEWS FIRST EXCLUSIVELY ON SCENE WHERE FREDDIE TILTON WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY AFTER FIRING UPON OFFICERS SERVING A SEARCH WARRANT FOR THE PROPERTY AT 3517 CHERRY ROAD, JULY 28, 2020.

“In addition to the conspiracy, the indictment charges each of the six defendants in one count of kidnapping resulting in death and in one count of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, resulting in murder.

Tilton, Thomas, Gibson, and Ward are also charged together in one count of being felons in possession of a firearm on July 14, 2020.

Tilton is also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of firearms on July 28, 2020. Tilton allegedly was in possession of a Rigarmi .25-caliber pistol, an Ithaca .22-caliber rifle, a Remington .22-caliber rifle, a Harrington and Richardson 12-gauge shotgun, a Ruger 9mm handgun, and a Taurus 9mm handgun at the time of his arrest.

NOTE: The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the FBI, the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Neosho, Mo., Police Department, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, and the Cherokee County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department.

FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM US DISTRICT FEDERAL COURT FOR WESTERN MISSOURI.
SCREENSHOT OF ONE VOLLEY IN ONLINE ARGUMENT BETWEEN THE MURDER VICTIM AND A DEFENDANT IN THE CASE, FREDDIE TILTON.
MISSING MAN IDIENTIFIED AS HOMICIDE VICTIM DISCOVERED ON CHERRY ROAD MULTI-AGENCY SWAT WARRANT SERVICE, JULY 28, 2020.
VIDEO DIARY OF MULTI-AGENCY SWAT RAID ON CHERRY ROAD, JULY 2020.
FREDDIE TILTON AND ALVIN BOYER ARE IN FEDERAL CUSTODY CURRENTLY FACING CHARGES IN A SEPARATE CRIME FOR THE VIOLENT KIDNAPPING AND ATTACK OF A FEMALE AT BOONSLICK LODGE IN NEOSHO ON JULY 19, 2020.

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