Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kidnapper Gets 40 Years in Foiled Abduction in Clay; Separate Charges Filed in Similar Jacksonville Case

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kidnapper Gets 40 Years in Foiled Abduction in Clay; Separate Charges Filed in Similar Jacksonville Case

Article excerpt

Byline: NIN-HAI TSENG, The Times-Union

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- Convicted kidnapper Timothy Oberlander was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in prison in the foiled Valentine's Day abduction of a Clay County girl at a school bus stop nearly three years ago.

The same day, the State Attorney's Office charged him with a separate attempted kidnapping of a 10-year-old Jacksonville girl in April 2003.

Both girls survived the brief kidnappings and made dramatic escapes.

They could not identify their attacker during Oberlander's trial in December. But transcripts from a hidden recorder worn by an inmate talking with Oberlander, handcuffs and a Honda Civic with a broken door handle described by the girl convinced the jury to convict the 39-year-old Maxville man.

"He's been a consistent visitor of the criminal system," Circuit Judge William A. Wilkes said.

Since 1984, Oberlander has been in and out of jail for aggravated assault, false imprisonment and other charges, Wilkes said. But those charges weren't enough reason for the maximum life sentence, which State Attorney Harry Shorstein recommended.

Oberlander's two sisters gasped in relief as the judge announced the sentence. Heidi McAlister covered her face. Her shoulders shook repeatedly as she sobbed out of the Clay County courtroom.

"I really believe it's better than life," said Laurie Davis, the other sister. "At least he has a chance."

Davis said her brother has three teenage children who live with their mother. She read a prepared statement to the judge recalling a loyal and brotherly side of Oberlander.

Oberlander, who stood silent before the judge, received 19 months of credit for time served since June 2003. It will be about 34 years before Oberlander is eligible for parole.

Davis said she is hopeful the jury will side with Oberlander in the Jacksonville case. She had testified in the Clay County case that her brother was asleep inside a mobile home behind her house the day of the Westside kidnapping. …

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