Kidnapped! Johnny Allison Describes Shocking Incident That Changed His Life

by John Haman and David Smith  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

In June 1997, a man walked into the Conway office of Spirit Mobile Homes and kidnapped Johnny Allison. “It changed my whole complexion on life,” Allison said. “My calendar was booked that week and I had lots of things to do, and suddenly nothing was important.” The wife of Allison’s friend Alex Lieblong, inset, had previously been kidnapped by Slack.

A version of this article originally appeared in Arkansas Business on June 16, 1997. It is being republished as part of Arkansas Business' 30th anniversary issue. You can access the digital edition for free here.

Johnny Allison, the manufactured-home magnate who apparently was kidnapped June 5 by escaped convict James Avery Slack and escaped by crashing his car into a dump truck, spoke to Arkansas Business about the ordeal after returning home to Conway last week.

“I want to know why he targeted me,” Allison said, though he believes he has the answer. Allison is a close friend of Alex Lieblong of Conway, the nationally known investment adviser whose wife, Jo Ann, was kidnapped by the same man in 1993.

After that incident, Slack led law enforcement officials on a long chase before turning himself over to police several days later. During Slack’s trial, Allison says, he sat with the Lieblong family as a gesture of support. And as Slack and Allison rode around Conway on June 5, it became clear that Slack was angry about Allison’s presence at the Conway trial, Allison says.

“He thinks he got a real raw deal in Faulkner County on the last kidnapping,” Allison says. “He thinks 88 years was very excessive.”

Lieblong, contacted Thursday, was still emotional about the recent events. “It couldn’t have hurt me any worse if it had been my brother,” he says.

On June 5, Allison says, a white man, mysteriously carrying a coat on an 80-degree day, walked into the office of Spirit Mobile Homes in Conway and put a gun to his head.

“He said, ‘Do you know who I am?’” Allison says he considered the coat and the man’s agitated demeanor and decided that he probably had a gun. “He pulled his glasses off and I said, ‘Are you Slack?’” The man said yes.

“I’m thinking, it’s so bizarre, it’s so ‘wow,’ that it’s almost like a dream, but I pulled myself together.”

At that point, Allison says, Slack made him leave the building. Once in Allison’s Mercedes convertible, Allison says, Slack told him he wanted $100,000 in ransom money in exchange for Allison’s release. The two men were on the way to a rendezvous with one of Allison’s employees to get the money when Allison crashed the car. Later, it turned out that Milburn Adams, one of Allison’s employees, had been tailing them much of the day but couldn’t decide if Allison was in danger.

Employees at Spirit Mobile Homes “thought there was something going on,” Allison says, noting that he flashed one of them a look of concern as he walked out of the building with Slack. “I don’t deal in cash. They thought it was strange, but nobody ever called the police. I left bread crumbs everywhere, but they just didn’t pick up on it.”

Later, Allison says, “I told the bank if I ever call for cash, call the police.”

 

 

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