Records show Conroe kidnap victim was related to suspect's wife

KTRK logo
Friday, January 26, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

NEW INFO: Documents say kidnap victim's brother owed suspect money, was held for ransom

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In a twist revealed late Thursday, court documents show the Conroe kidnapping victim, who was killed during an FBI raid, was related to the wife of one of the suspects.

According to the criminal complaint, the suspects demanded $20,000 in ransom as the victim was held at gunpoint in a northeast Houston home. Initially, they told the victim his brother owed them $8,000. Eyewitness News is not identifying the victim because it is not clear whether his next of kin has been notified.

Furthermore, investigators allege the suspects threatened the victim's other family members, who they could easily name because the victim is related to one suspect by marriage. That suspect, Nicholas Cunningham, told investigators he also had a girlfriend and that the victim was being held at her house. That woman is identified as Sophia Heath. Heath, Cunningham and Jimmy Sanchez have been arrested in the kidnapping plot.

The revelation came hours removed from the case unraveling in opposite ends of the Houston area.

According to Conroe police, everything began with a home invasion Wednesday morning at the victim's home on Tyler Lane. He and his 12-year-old son were reportedly bound with duct tape.

Conroe police Chief Philip Dupuis said two suspects took the father with them and left the child behind. The boy later managed to get free and run to a neighbor's house where police were called.

Over the next three hours, the kidnappers called the man's brother and made demands. Conroe police contacted the FBI for assistance in the case.

Authorities tracked down two of the three suspects to a hotel in the Clear Lake area, along Bay Area Boulevard near the Gulf Freeway. The suspects were arrested.

Police were able to locate the victim to a home on Elbert Street in northeast Houston, where authorities moved in and made contact with the third remaining suspect. The details of exactly what happened are not yet clear, but one FBI agent fired shots.

The kidnapping victim was fatally injured, and pronounced dead at LBJ Hospital.

The FBI says two children were inside the home when the man was killed. Family came and picked up a boy and a girl.

Police identified the suspects as Nicholas Chase Cunningham, 42; Jimmy Tony Sanchez, 38; and Sofia Perez Heath, 35. All three were charged with aggravated kidnapping. Cunningham and Sanchez were additionally charged with aggravated robbery.

Brett Ligon, the Montgomery County district attorney, says his office will look into the possibility of murder charges in the case since the suspect's alleged actions led to the victim's death.

Meanwhile, the FBI has remained tight-lipped on the entire incident.

"I can't tell you specifically why we were here, but I can tell you that it was an FBI operation," said Christina Garza with the Houston FBI, when asked of the agency's role during the raid.

The FBI says the agent involved in the shooting will be placed on leave pending the investigation.

Houston police homicide detectives are investigating as well since the victim died in their jurisdiction.

FULL VIDEO: Conroe PD and Montgomery Co. district attorney discuss kidnapping case and charges against 3 suspects

TIMELINE: Far-reaching kidnapping ends in victim's killing