Ryan Place dragged his ex-girlfriend by her hair into a remote wooded area near Saratoga Lake and then made her dig a shallow grave with her bare hands.
The 28-year-old Milton man was incensed, according to prosecutors. He tried to rekindle his relationship with the woman late in the evening of July 21, but shifted to violence after she rebuffed his advances.
Place pummeled the woman in an area off Brown Road in the town of Saratoga, bound her hands with a shirt and then dragged her to the woods. There, he made it clear to her: She was going to die one way or another.
“He tells her this is where she is going to die and makes her dig her own grave,” Assistant Saratoga County District Attorney Kristin Foust said. “He threatened to drown her in a nearby pond.”
But instead, the woman managed to calm Place and convinced him to leave with her. And instead of dying, she lived to recount the horrific evening to the authorities.
On Monday, a jury found Place guilty of all nine charges he was facing. They deliberated for about a day, following five days of testimony from 17 witnesses last week.
Place now faces up to 10 to 25 years in prison when sentenced Aug. 11 on the top charged of second-degree kidnapping and lesser charges of assault, grand larceny and harassment.
Place kidnapped his old fling even though he was wearing an ankle bracelet monitor, having been paroled from state prison in March 2013 after serving a five-year prison sentence for burglary. Coordinates from the monitor helped place him at the scene of the crime, Foust said.
After leaving the woods, Place brought the woman back to his family’s home in Milton, where he was staying at the time. Foust said they alerted authorities when they returned to find her there the morning after the kidnapping.
Place then grabbed the woman’s cellphone and keys and fled the area in her vehicle. Foust said he then drove to her family’s home where he nearly collided with her parents as they were leaving.
Foust said Place then assaulted the woman’s father before finally being taken into custody. And while held at the Saratoga County Jail, he attempted to call her roughly 90 times over the course of two days, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutor James A. Murphy III said he declined to offer Place a plea deal given the serious nature of the case.
“This is a classic case of domestic violence,” he said. “He slowly exerted control over her until his grip on her became so tight that he literally controlled every aspect of her life. I am just thankful she is not the victim of a homicide and lying dead in that shallow grave he had her dig and that she is alive and well to testify against him.”