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Published March 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

Suspects in Fergus Falls kidnapping appear in court

An Elbow Lake, Minn., man and his stepson made their first court appearances Tuesday in connection with the weekend abduction of a 17-year-old girl.

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, INFORUM

An Elbow Lake, Minn., man and his stepson made their first court appearances Tuesday in connection with the weekend abduction of a 17-year-old girl.

David Randy Sabby, 46, faces 10 criminal charges ranging from kidnapping to sexual assault to violating an order for protection.

Sabby is accused in Otter Tail County (Minn.) District Court in Fergus Falls of kidnapping the girl at gunpoint on Saturday from the Westridge Mall in Fergus Falls.

Court records say Sabby took the girl to a vacant cabin on Swan Lake, where he sexually assaulted her. The girl told police Sabby choked her and pointed a gun at her several times while they were at the cabin for about four hours.

Sabby’s charges:

  • Two counts of kidnapping.

  • Two counts each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

  • First-degree tampering with a witness.

  • Violating a protection order.

Additional charges could be filed after the state fire marshal completes an investigation of a fire that destroyed the cabin, said Michelle Eldien, assistant Otter Tail County attorney.

The fire started after Sabby gave the girl the keys to his pickup and let her leave. It’s unknown how the fire started.

Sabby’s stepson, Derek Allen Gilpin, 26, Elbow Lake, faces charges for his role. Court records say Gilpin sent text messages to Sabby to tell him where they were.

Gilpin is charged with false imprisonment-intentional restraint, first-degree tampering with a witness and violating a protection order.

Gilpin told police he thought Sabby only wanted to talk to the girl and was surprised when he had a gun.

The girl has an order for protection against Sabby in neighboring Grant County. Sabby also faces a charge of violating that protection order in Grant County, as well as in a separate case with 14 criminal sexual conduct charges that involve the same victim.

Both Sabby and Gilpin remained in the Otter Tail County Jail on Tuesday night.

Judge Wally Senyk set Sabby’s bail at $750,000 cash or bond without conditions or $400,000 cash or bond with conditions, including staying in Minnesota and not living at the home he shares with his wife.

Eldien asked for $1 million unconditional bond.

Gilpin’s bail was set at $40,000 bond or $4,000 cash with conditions.

Sabby’s attorney, Kent Marshall of Barrett, Minn., said he looks forward to defending the case.

“We have a different version of what occurred than what the state is alleging,” Marshall said.

Sabby’s next court date has not been set.

Gilpin qualified for a public defender, but had not yet been appointed one on Tuesday, according to court administration. Gilpin will appear in court on March 23.

Some new details are included in the court documents:

Gilpin and the girl arrived in Fergus Falls about 6 p.m. Saturday and went to Target and McDonald’s before buying tickets for a 7:05 p.m. movie. Gilpin later told police he arranged the meeting between the girl and Sabby because Sabby wanted to get the girl to “recant her story,” referring to the Grant County sexual abuse charges.

While in the mall parking lot shortly before 7 p.m., Sabby opened the driver’s side door of the girl’s car and put a semi-automatic handgun to her left side, saying “If you scream or make another sound, I’ll shoot you where you sit,” documents say.

The girl told police that Sabby duct-taped her hands and mouth and put her on the floor of his pickup. She was able to text-message her foster mother to call 911 while Sabby was binding Gilpin with duct tape and putting him in the back of the car.

The foster mother called 911, Eldien said.

Sabby threw his cell phone and the girl’s cell phone out the window as he drove to the cabin.

The girl told police she feared for her life while at the cabin and asked several times to leave. The girl said Sabby told her, “You have ruined my life, and now I will ruin yours.”

After he let her go, the girl drove to a Holiday gas station, where the clerk called 911. While there, the girl also called her mother, who at the time was being interviewed by police. The officer got on the phone and the girl, thinking she was talking to Gilpin, said “I knew you set me up.”

Records say Gilpin’s account of what happened initially had discrepancies. Gilpin told police he was scared and ashamed for letting the girl get kidnapped.

Grant County Sheriff Dwight Walvatne said his agency is working with jurisdictions in at least two other states about other possible charges against Sabby.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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