Bail stays high for would-be kidnapper, 76

Posted: November 21, 2012

His attorney said that he lived a "model life," that he was a former business executive, founder of a Christian ministry, and has 14 grandchildren.

But after hearing the district attorney counter that 76-year-old John Felder of Miami had meticulously plotted a kidnap attempt, may have been planning more, and had a loaded .38-caliber pistol in his car, a judge Tuesday in Delaware County declined to lower his $175,000 bail.

Felder's daughter was on hand for the brief hearing before District Judge John Tuten in Radnor Township, but declined comment beyond saying the family wanted privacy.

His attorney, Jason Antoine, said family members were shocked by their patriarch's arrest.

"This doesn't make any sense," he said. "He led a model life until these charges."

Felder has been charged with trying to execute a bizarre plot to kidnap a wealthy Villanova resident and hold him for ransom. Police say he posed as a flower-delivery man, knocked on the 50-year-old homeowner's door, and then shot him in the chest with a Taser gun.

The homeowner managed to slam the door before Felder could gain entry, and called police. Three days later, Fedler was arrested in the Poconos -- traced there, police said, with the help of a parking ticket he'd received while buying the flowers in Wayne.

In court on Tuesday, Felder wore a navy-blue prison jumpsuit and blue slippers. He stood quietly in front of the judge's bench as Antoine argued that Felder wasn't a flight risk and that his bail should be lowered to $100,000.

Antoine said Felder is a Temple University graduate, a former chief financial officer of Spencer's Gifts and the founder of a Christian ministry in Florida.

He suffers from several serious heart-related medical conditions and hasn't been receiving all of his medications in Delaware County Prison, Antoine said.

"It's part of my job to keep him from dying in prison," Antoine said, adding that Felder's family is willing to monitor him until his next court appearance, scheduled for Dec. 4.

Assistant District Attorney Lindsay McDonald argued to keep Felder's bail at $175,000, saying Felder not only carefully planned the attempted kidnapping, but was found with six cell phones and a list of other area business executives.

McDonald said police also found a ransom note, two stun guns, a Taser and a loaded .38 revolver in Felder's car, and that he was trying to buy another gun just before his arrest.

"The Delaware County prison is more than equipped to handle somone of this defendant's age," she said.

Antoine said Felder's family was disappointed by the outcome of Tuesday's hearing and "shocked the whole thing happened."

An attorney representing members of the family that Felder allegedly targeted said that they were "doing about as well as can be expected" and that they called the incident "troubling."

Contact staff writer Aubrey Whelan at 610-313-8112, at awhelan@philly.com or on Twitter at @aubreyjwhelan.

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