Shelby TownshipAugust 05, 2013
Man faces charge for allegedly kidnapping Shelby Township child
By Sarah Wojcik
C & G Staff Writer
Jameskutty Varghese, 46, left, and his interpreter, Murali Nair, address Judge Douglas P. Shepherd at the 41-A District Court in Shelby Township Aug. 5 during Varghese’s arraignment on a kidnapping charge.
Judge Douglas P. Shepherd held an arraignment Aug. 5 for a man facing a charge of attempting to hold a person in involuntarily servitude, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Jameskutty Varghese, 46, a Canton Township resident until the week before the incident, appeared before the judge and the 1-year-old victim’s family and pleaded not guilty with the aid of an interpreter. He speaks Malayalam, an Indian language.
Varghese’s preliminary hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 19 and Varghese will be appointed a lawyer. Varghese will be held at the Macomb County Jail unless he can make his $500,000 cash bond.
Britteny Wroble, 24, of Shelby Township, said that at around 5 p.m. Aug. 3, Varghese approached her and her son, Xach, who just turned 1, on the sidewalk outside of their apartment building, located at Hall and Mound Roads.
“He started trying to make (my son) laugh, sniffed his head in a weird way and then grabbed him and made it a decent way toward the tennis courts of the apartment before I grabbed him back,” Wroble said. “The whole ordeal took maybe five minutes.”
Robert Wroble, 26, said his wife ran to their neighbor’s house and called the police and that he came from his second job in Lake Orion.
“(The suspect) was walking back from the store when police showed up and started looking for him,” he said. “He had just bought something from a local liquor store like nothing had happened.”
Britteny said through tears that she is relieved that Varghese likely can’t get out of jail and that Xach and her other son, Xade, 3, are safe for a time, and that she felt ill during the arraignment looking at Varghese.
Robert said Varghese was smiling and laughing in court and that he could not think of anything but tearing him apart.
“Something like this, it’s not a joke. There’s no joke when it comes to someone’s children,” he said. “It’s something else for someone to push me around — I can defend myself. He’s 1 year old. There’s nothing he could have done.”
Murali Nair, an interpreter who works for Executive Language Services Inc. and who translated for Varghese in court Monday, said he believes the issue is a matter of cultural misunderstanding.
“What he told me was he didn’t do anything at all, there was no screaming from the parent, nothing like that,” Nair said. “He said he just was talking to his wife on the phone and saw the baby waving and he smiled at the baby and gave a small finger to the baby to hold it.”
Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers said the police are still investigating the incident and that it is difficult to discern where Varghese was coming from because of the language barrier.
“But what he did was illegal and improper,” Woelkers said. “It is definitely a felony with some serious prison time.”
Woelkers said that at the time of his capture, Varghese was at more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system for driving.
Shepherd questioned Varghese and discovered that he is married, is staying at a friend’s residence on 23 Mile Road, has worked at International Finishing Technologies in Macomb for two months and has been living in the country for two and a half years. Varghese has a green card and a passport.
“I can’t let go of the thought of ‘what if,’” Robert said. “It was one of the most helpless feelings I’ve ever felt in my life. It just puts a knot in my stomach, the thought that he might not be here with us today.”
Britteny said that she felt that five years in prison seems like an easy sentence to her.