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College football players Ani Okeke Ewo and Nicholas Kollias were kidnapped and tortured for 40 hours

Ani Okeke Ewo and Nicholas Kollias
Ani Okeke Ewo and Nicholas Kollias

This week Evil Talks: Chilling Confessions spotlights the disturbing case of Ani Okeke Ewo and Nicholas Kollias, who were kidnapped and tortured in a drug related revenge attack.

December 4, 2015, and Kollias was hanging out with his friend from the football team, who said he knew a couple of women who wanted to meet up. One of the women was 19-year-old Samantha Hughes, who tried to friend the two player on Facebook earlier in the week and she arrived with her friend 20-year-old Leah Gigliotti to pick up Kollias and his other friend Ani Okeke Ewo.

The pair were high and drunk, with Hughes having taken weed and Gigliotti snorting cocaine, they passed some booze back to Kollias and Ewo before setting off. They drove into a rougher area of town and Kollias says he got a little worried, but they still followed the two women into a house.

Inside the house was a mess and stank of urine, the two men sat down on the couch and then were shocked to have a group of ten men in masks burst into the room wielding bats, knives and guns! The lights went off and Kollias decided to make a run for the door, but he was shot in the leg and his femur shattered.

The two men were then taken into the bathroom and had their hands and feet taped together. Over the next 40 hours Kollias and Ewo were tortured with hedge clippers and other improvised weapons before being sexually assaulted.

The next morning the two football students were reported missing and campus officials started an investigation. In a bit of luck, one of Kollias’s teammates remembered the girl who’d tried to friend him on Facebook and let the investigators know. They reached out to Hughes and she eventually arranged to meet them, admitted that she’d partied with Kollias but saying that she had no idea where he was. She even led them down a false trail by saying she could not remember the exact address and driving them to the opposite end of town.

Meantime, Kollias was being forced to try and transfer money from his account but was unable to get the bank to do it until the Monday, them being unaware he literally had a gun to his head.

By the Saturday night the local police had taken over the investigation and the teammate who’d reported the Facebook request now reached out to another player, Isaiah Smith. He was a real talent but was also involved in drug dealing and it was this that proved to be the link to the kidnapping.

 Clockwise from top left: Lydell Strickland, Samantha Hughes, Leah Gigliotti and Elliot Rivera

Clockwise from top left: Lydell Strickland, Samantha Hughes, Leah Gigliotti and Elliot Rivera

Police pulled in Smith and the two women for questioning and eventually the women cracked and gave up the real address where the two players were being held.

By this time Kollias and his teammate were both in very bad shape, having lost a huge amount of blood. Kollias later said that he thought they might die, especially when the men holding them started firing off dozens of rounds near their heads and bodies.

However, on Sunday evening there was a huge explosion and flash as the SWAT team burst into the house and rescued the two men.

It turned out that the kidnapping was the result of a complex deceit where drug dealer Smith had arranged an earlier fake robbery earlier. This drug heist made it look like Smith and some associates were robbed of a large quantity of weed and he’d staged it at Ewo’s apartment whilst he was away. It turned out that Smith was in on it and the blame then shifted onto Ewo, who the other dealers just assumed was involved. This then led to gang members Lydel Strickland and Elliot Rivera plotting revenge and organising the kidnapping.

At the trial Strickland was said to be the mastermind and was given a 155 year sentence, with Rivera being given 35 years. Smith was also charged and was given a 13 year sentence for the robbery that triggered the later events.

The two women who were used as bait were given over 12 years each for their part in luring the men to the house.

Kollias later told the press that if the campus authorities had not ignored Smith’s drug dealing due to his talent on the football field, then none of the events might have happened.

Evil Talks: Chilling Confessions, The Torture Trap airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more

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