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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Family members of Quinton Goree were shocked to learn of allegations that he took part in a violent home invasion and kidnapping August 9.
Goree's remorse over the incident is what prompted his live-in girlfriend, suspect Bryan Blakely's sister, to call police.
Three suspects, records show, confessed to taking part in the crime.
Investigators allege they broke into the home of suspect Regan Reynolds former in-laws, David and Kathleen Byker, then kidnapped his ex-mother-in-law in an attempt to extort $200,000 from the couple.
They then tied the woman to a telephone pole in a cornfield and left her there.
The plan failed when she freed herself and got help from a passing truck driver. The trio never got any money, records show.
Blakely and Goree, 25, eventually turned themselves in and asked police to pick them up. Police caught the third suspect, Reynolds, later.
The girlfriend who called police told 24 Hour News 8 that she believed Blakely and Goree were manipulated into taking part in the plot, though she doesn't know how. She said the behavior is out of character for her brother and her boyfriend.
When Goree was 12 years old, his mother died from complications related to kidney problems, said his grandmother, Bessie Barner.
His father died in 2008 when he was electrocuted in a construction accident near Division Avenue in Grand Rapids and most recently his daughter died on what would have been her first birthday.
She was found dead in her crib and died after choking, Barner said.
Even after the tragedies, Goree's loved ones say he was a good person who held a steady job and went to church.
"I don't know where this is coming from," Barner said, adding that she believes Goree got involved with the wrong people.
She learned the details of what happened while watching the news.
"That's all we knew," she told 24 Hour News 8. "What little bit we heard on the news."
The victims of the home invasion, David and Kathleen Byker, were not present when the three suspects were charged in court Wednesday afternoon , but neighbors said the couple seems to be doing well.
Barner said she feels bad about what they went through.
"I feel sorry for the people," she said. "I don't know why in the world he would do such a thing and I hope they can find in their heart to forgive him."
The separate wrecks occurred around 5 a.m. north of Plainwell.
The heaviest snow showers will track through midday.
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