Cut Off man relieved to be cleared of kidnapping charge

Cut Off man relieved to be cleared of kidnapping charge

CUT OFF, LA (WVUE) - A Lafourche man said Monday that a lie tarnished his image, but he always had faith that the truth would come out.

"Very relieved, very relieved," Kaleb Bruce said.

Bruce was arrested July 5 on simple kidnapping charges involving a 12-year-old boy. Authorities said the boy and a 15-year-old friend were walking along West 163rd Street in Galliano during the early morning hours, when Bruce pulled up alongside them.

Bruce does not deny that.

"I actually had a disagreement with [the 12-year-old's] brother, and I actually went to talk to his brother, and his brother wasn't coming outside, so when I left the residence I went to drop one of my friends off at his house and coincidentally the same street I was down, his little brother was walking down," Bruce said.

Bruce also admits that he got out of his car to speak to the boy.

"And I told him, 'Look, I've known y'all for a long time. Even though me and your brother have problems doesn't mean we have to have problems,'" Bruce said. "That was basically it. I didn't really raise my voice or anything," Bruce said.

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office said at the time of Bruce's arrest, the story told by the 12 year old and his friend seemed to add up.

"Obviously, when we heard the story and several witnesses coming forward and corroborating the story, everything did line up and we established probable cause for the arrest," said LPSO spokesman Brennan Matherne.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the two boys stated that Bruce grabbed the 12 year old and placed him in the rear seat of his vehicle, then placed a duffel bag over the boy's face and tied his hands. The 12 year old also said that he was able to escape after about 15 minutes and he and his friend ran to the home of 17-year-old David Nelson, who corroborated the boy's story about the alleged kidnapping.

Still, investigators kept probing and eventually the story unraveled.

"What we've learned is the 12 year old who was the one that initially claimed to be the victim was the one that actually spurred on the fabrication of the story, so once we learned that, we learned the 15 year old and then of course, David Nelson also went along with it," Matherne said.

Now the trio faces criminal mischief for filing a false police report.

'I'm such a family person and I work hard and I try to do the right thing, and these people made up these terrible lies about me, made me seem like a monster for something I didn't even do," Bruce said.

And the Sheriff's Office said this case is an example of the department's zero-tolerance for people calling law enforcement and making false allegations.

"I am angry but I feel like you can't hold grudges forever, hold your resentment, it's in the past now," Bruce said.

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All charges related to the fabricated kidnapping have been dropped against Bruce.