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20/20 on ID investigates the crimes of Hossein Nayeri who was involved in infamous kidnap and torture plot

Mugshots of Hossein Nayeri and Kyle Handley
Hossein Nayeri and Kyle Handley both received life sentences for their role in horrific kidnapping and torture. Pic credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Office

20/20 on ID is investigating the kidnapping of a marijuana dispenser from Newport Beach, California, who was cruelly tortured and mutilated in a plot to steal cash from him in a scheme organized by Hossein Nayeri.

In the middle of the night on October 2, 2012, Nayeri and his coconspirators Kyle Handley and Ryan Anthony Kevorkian broke into a house on Newport Beach. They kidnapped an unidentified man, a medical marijuana dispenser, and the man’s housemate, Mary Barnes.

The male victim was the main target of the attack, and the authorities chose not to disclose his identity as the torture he received was considered a sex crime. During the trial process, he was referred to as John Doe.

The kidnappers forced John Doe and Barnes into the Mojave desert, where they mistakenly believed that he had buried 1 million dollars in cash. When John Doe failed to answer their questions, the kidnappers brutally and savagely tortured him.

The victim was beaten with a rubber hose, tasered, severely burned with a blow torch, and had bleach poured over his entire body. And in an act deemed inhuman, his penis was cut off. In court, John Doe would later call this act “the most gratuitous, sadistic injury.”

The men left John Doe and Barnes to die in the desert. However, Barnes managed to make it back to the road where she flagged down a sheriff’s car. The pair were then taken to a hospital.

The police caught a break when a neighbor came forward with the license plate number for a suspicious-looking pick-up truck they had spotted near the crime scene. This info led the cops to Handley.

Hossein Nayeri escaped the police

In the meantime, Nayeri had fled to Iran, where he had relatives. The police managed to persuade his wife, Cortney Shegarian, to help them capture him. She lured her husband out of Iran and onto a plane; he was eventually arrested in Prague, Czech Republic.

Nayeri wasn’t finished yet. A short time later, he and two other inmates staged a daring escape from Orange County jail. He was on the run for eight days before he was recaptured.

Nayeri insisted he was innocent all along; however, he was ultimately convicted of two counts of kidnapping for ransom and one count of torture. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Kyle Handley was also convicted and was sentenced to serve life in prison. Kevorkian pleaded guilty and received 12 years for his role in the plot.

More from 20/20 on ID

Follow the links to read about more heinous crimes profiled on 20/20 on ID.

Paul Snider was driven mad with jealously over the success of his wife; Playboy model turned actress Dorothy Stratten. One day, the coward persuaded his now ex-wife to his home, where he shot her with a shotgun before turning the gun on himself.

SNL stalwart and The Simpsons actor Phil Hartman was tragically murdered by his wife Brynn Omdahl as he slept in their bed. Omdahl would later turn the gun on herself, leaving their children orphans.

20/20 on ID airs in two parts from 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but is now based in the UK. He specializes in true crime and entertainment news stories. When not writing for Monsters and Critics he loves watching...read more

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