Trio arrested after wife's wrists are bound
By CHRIS TISCH and ROBERT FARLEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 7, 2002
A man says he and two friends restrained his wife for a trip to the doctor. Instead, they earn a trip to jail. LARGO -- A man was arrested Tuesday and accused of enlisting two friends to help him tie up his wife so he could take her to the doctor.
Largo police arrested Terry Ray Hemphill, 54, on charges of felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor domestic battery. Jamie J. Popa, 33, and Laurie Lynn Miller, 32, also were arrested on false imprisonment charges.
Largo police Officer Daniel Ross discovered the bound woman Tuesday morning after a neighbor called police to report a suspicious vehicle on her street. The neighbor told Ross that two women had left the vehicle and had entered a house at 210 Seventh Ave. SW.
Ross saw a man, later identified as Hemphill, in the driveway, starting a van. The man greeted Ross as he approached and said his wife was resisting going to the doctor, Ross said. The man said he and two friends bound his wife's wrists so they could take her to the doctor.
"I kind of raised my eyebrows and said: 'Really? Is she okay and can I go see her?' " Ross said.
Once inside the home, Ross said, he saw Hemphill's wife standing in the dining room with black electrical tape around her wrists, which were pulled behind her back. Popa and Miller stood next to her, Ross said.
Hemphill told Ross his wife had stopped taking hormone replacement medication a few weeks ago. Her behavior had become erratic, and she had trouble sleeping, he said.
Hemphill also said he had scheduled visits with other doctors for his wife, but she had missed all her appointments, Ross said.
Ross said Hemphill told him he had persuaded his wife to see a doctor Tuesday, but she had refused. Hemphill then locked the doors, unplugged the phone, put the dog in another room and summoned Popa and Miller to the house, Ross said.
"It kind of came to a head," Ross said. "She dug in her heels and said no. He took her to the ground and they piled on and held her arms.
"It was no time before she was on the floor and the two women were holding her arms and her husband was taping up her wrists," the officer added.
Hemphill's wife said it wasn't the first time her husband had physically abused her, Ross said. She told Ross she did not report the previous abuse to police, but reported it to the Church of Scientology, of which the Hemphills are members. Ross said Mrs. Hemphill told him a Scientology counselor had been assigned to help the couple.
Church spokesman Ben Shaw said he does not know the Hemphills and knew nothing about the incident.
Most church auditors are trained in marriage counseling for church members, he said. Those sessions are confidential, he said.
Asked if a counselor, knowing of physical violence, would report it to police, Shaw responded, "If someone was breaking the law, absolutely it would be reported to law enforcement."
Ross said all parties involved fully cooperated once he entered the house.
"Everyone seemed really happy to see me. They said: 'We're so glad you're here. Maybe you can take her to the doctor,' " Ross said. "They appeared to me to think they were justified in what they did."
Hemphill's wife asked him to cut the tape, which he did.
Ross said Hemphill's wife told him she had never taken any hormone replacement drugs.
"She was lucid. There was no reason, in my opinion, to take her anywhere against her will," Ross said.
Police called the doctor, who verified Mrs. Hemphill's appointment, her first. The doctor, whose office is in St. Petersburg, told police he did not know, nor approve, of Hemphill tying up his wife to bring her there, Ross said.
Ross said Hemphill and his friends seemed contrite.
"They were a bit surprised and admitted they made a mistake and shouldn't have done that," Ross said. "When I was walking them to the car I explained to them that only a limited number of people have the authority to take someone into custody, and they aren't one of them."
Hemphill was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of $25,000 bail. Popa, of Belleair, and Miller, of Dunedin, were released after posting $5,000 bail each, jail records show.