03 February 2007


Jason Moyer lay face down in back of the car as it rattled down the road, sobbing behind his makeshift gag. The smell of gas mixed with the sickly stench of his own drying blood would have been enough to make him retch if he had the strength left.
He didn't.

He had lost track of time. Had it been four hours since the 21-year-old was accosted at gunpoint outside the Clouser's Mini Mart in rural Orwingsburg , Pa. ? Had it been two hours? All Moyer knew was that since his abduction he had been beaten and, as prosecutors later described it, tortured. He had been doused with gasoline outside the convenience store and feared that the two men would set him ablaze. He tried to escape, dashing into a nearby stand of trees, but the men who pursued him were prepared for that. They had ripped the spark plug wires out of his car. They knew the woods as well as, maybe even better than, Moyer did. Instead of chasing him, they hid, too. A few minutes later, when Moyer cautiously sidled toward his disabled car, the two men leapt out from behind the gnarled oaks, hickories and black walnut saplings, and grabbed him. Before leaving the store, they forced him to pump gas into their car, and stopped him briefly, using the nozzle to drench Moyer with fuel.
Moyer was even further humiliated later in the four-hour ordeal. The man in the "Jesus Saves" T-shirt and his friend stripped Moyer naked and forced him to scramble on his hands and knees through the Pennsylvania brambles. All the while, the two men pursued him as if he were a rabbit or a squirrel. When they caught him again, the men beat Moyer some more.
The gas trickled into the open wounds all over Moyer's body, wounds left when the two dragged a dull and rusty razor across his skin, carving a jagged X across his left nipple. They had burned Moyer's testicles with cigarettes. But even that paled in comparison to what happened next: They forced him, at gunpoint he later said, to sodomize himself with an iron bar.
"Is that what she felt like? Is that what it felt like when you raped her?" his attacker had hissed.
As he later described it, Moyer could hear the man in the Jesus T-shirt stomping toward him as he lay there sobbing. Moyer clenched his jaw and shut his eyes tight behind his blindfold. He could smell gun oil and spent powder. Then, he heard the sharp metallic rasp as the man chambered a round in the semiautomatic. "I thought I was going to die," he said later.
Two rounds in quick succession whizzed past Moyer's ear. Then, four more. Each round echoed in Moyer's head like thunder at the end of the world. Then, one of the men cocked the gun and handed it to the quivering young man. Together, the two men forced Moyer to turn the gun on himself.
Trembling, Moyer refused to pull the trigger. One of the men did it instead. Click. Moyer collapsed sobbing.
And then it was over. As far as Steven Mitchell and Kevin Nestor were concerned, justice, a brutal Old Testament sort of justice to be sure, but justice all the same, had been done.

Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania map

Now, Moyer was back in the backseat of the car, rattling along the back roads of Schuylkill County . As abruptly as they had grabbed him, he later told authorities, the two men pulled over and kicked him out of the car at a remote bus stop in the middle of nowhere.
Dazed and confused, his eyes and face swollen from the beatings, his back bruised where he had been pummeled with a club, his ears still ringing, hobbling from the pain from the most humiliating violations, he made his way nearly four miles to a local convenience store. He did the only thing he could think to do. He called his wife. The cops came instead.
It didn't take long for the police to arrive, and when they did, the shattered young man laid out the whole story for them. But before he did, he asked the police officers one question, a question that would be perfectly appropriate coming from a suspect in a crime, but one that seemed odd, very odd, coming from a man who had just been beaten, and he claimed, sexually assaulted. He asked, "You're going to read me my rights, aren't you?"

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