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.

Lieblong still is concerned about what made Slack “go bad in the first place.” He says he even visited Slack in prison to try to determine some of his motives.

“Here is a guy who is very, very bright in some ways,” Lieblong says. “He is not an inner-city youth who has other problems. He’s a military veteran, an officer in the military and he almost has a master’s degree.”

Lieblong also is curious how Slack supported himself even before he kidnapped Lieblong’s wife in 1993.

“Something’s been going on for a long, long time,” Lieblong says. “Here’s a guy who [allegedly] kidnapped two other people before he got me and my wife. He was paying his rent for several years by cash each month. This isn’t just a one-case deal.”

At one point after the Lieblong kidnapping, Slack told authorities that he had tied up and robbed Jimmy Fiddler of Conway. State police also investigated Slack as a suspect in the kidnapping of John Slingerland of Star City, but Slack was never charged in the case. Slack was convicted in 1992 of illegally possessing a machine gun and received a sentence of two years’ probation.

Nevertheless, Lieblong says he has sympathy and pity for Slack and he feels sorry for Slack’s children.

“Maybe this thing will end,” Lieblong says. “The whole episode is a sad deal. I’m not taking any pleasure in any part of it. I wish the hell I’d never heard of him.”

Since Then ...

2014: James Avery Slack was convicted of kidnapping Johnny Allison and second degree terroristic threatening in May 1998 and sentenced to 60 years in state prison. That prison time is to be served concurrently with the 88-year sentence he received for kidnapping Jo Ann Lieblong in 1993.

Slack, now 61, currently is imprisoned in the maximum security unit at Brickeys (Lee County). He escaped from the state maximum security prison at Tucker on May 18, 1997.

Allison was one of the largest shareholders in Little Rock’s First Commercial Corp. when it sold in 1998 to Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala.

Not long after that $2.7 billion stock swap closed, Allison began the formation of today’s Home BancShares Inc. He is chairman of the Conway bank holding company, and Alex Lieblong is an investor and director.



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