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Police say Quinn Gray, left, cooked up a fake kidnapping scheme with Jasmin Osmanovic, right, a car mechanic she initially met at a gas station. Her attorneys contend that Gray was having a psychotic episode during which she was manipulated by Osmanovic.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/3/2009 9:29:09 AM ET 2009-11-03T14:29:09

It sounds like the sort of romantic-mystery potboiler that keeps readers on the edge of their summer beach chairs: A strikingly pretty Florida housewife with a handsome husband and two beautiful young daughters is kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and held for $50,000 ransom.

Or was she?

Prosecutors contend the strange case of 37-year-old Quinn Gray, who claims she was abducted and held for four days in hellish captivity, is a cleverly planned ruse. They claim her supposed abductor, a 25-year-old Bosnian immigrant, was actually her lover, and that the pair plotted to extort cash from Quinn’s well-heeled husband, Reid.

Quinn Gray and her alleged lover, Jasmin Osmanovic, are charged with extortion. But two of her lawyers appeared on TODAY Tuesday to say that Gray, who has a history of mental illness, is a terrorized victim, not a scheming co-conspirator. The case has set the community around Jacksonville, Fla., abuzz.

‘Please do this, honey’
No one is arguing the basics of the case. Quinn Gray went missing the Friday of Labor Day weekend. A ransom note, written in Quinn’s handwriting, was found tacked to the front door of the Gray’s $4 million home, stating: “There are three men holding me right now, and they want $50,000 cash. Stay at the house NO COPS! Keep your cell phone on you. Keep the kids with you. Please do this honey, please!”

But authorities believe it was all trickery. They believe Gray was having an affair with Osmanovic that began when the two met in June at a gas station where Osmanovic worked, and that the pair cooked up a fake kidnapping plot.

TODAY
On the surface, Reid and Quinn Gray and their two daughters were the perfect family.
“It became more and more evident to really everybody involved that there was something far more complex and involved than a kidnapping,” St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar told NBC. “Quinn Gray was not kidnapped.”

Authorities cite, among other things, the manager of the hotel where Gray was allegedly being held saying she “didn’t seem to be in distress at all,” and a 90-minute audiotape they say captured the sounds of Gray and Osmanovic in the throes of passion, and then plotting the details of a fake kidnapping.

Mental illness, substance abuse
But Gray attorney Mark Miller has a simple explanation: Quinn Gray is a very sick woman. Miller told Matt Lauer live on TODAY, “Her reaction to the kidnapping, it may seem bizarre, but it’s all explained by her mental illness.”

Miller says psychiatric problems run in Gray’s family, and that she tried to mask her own emotional problems by abusing alcohol. Gray checked in to the renowned Hazelden clinic in Minnesota last June to receive treatment, but when she checked out in July, she was a virtual mental powder keg, her attorneys say.

“Quinn has grown up with a stigma against recognizing what she was going through,” Miller told Lauer. “She self-medicated for much of her adult life with alcohol; that led to a substance abuse problem. In the middle of the summer, she was treated for alcoholism.

TODAY
From left, Rick Jancha and Mark Miller are attorneys representing Quinn Gray, who has pled not guilty to extorting $50,000 from her husband.

“When she came back, for the next six weeks she was untreated, undiagnosed and she was no longer self-medicating. She was in a manic phase of her bipolar disorder when she was kidnapped.”

That made Quinn Gray easy pickings for the likes of Osmanovic, Miller contends. He said that when the case goes to court, he will move to have the incriminating audiotape tossed out under rape shield laws. Far from being a tape of two people making love, then scheming to collect $50,000, said Miller, the tape is actually “an audio recording of a woman who has been kidnapped, abducted and being raped.”

Standing by his wife
For now, Quinn Gray is at a psychiatric facility on St. Simons Island in Georgia, and Osmanovic is in jail. Attorney Rick Jancha, also representing Gray, told Lauer Tuesday that she is “doing rather well. Of course she’s very anxious about what’s going on. She’s in the middle of her treatment.”

And Reid Gray is standing by his wife, both believing her version of the events and bankrolling her defense. In a statement, he said, “This has been an extraordinarily traumatic experience for me and my entire family. I am deeply concerned over how this incident has, and will continue to, affect our children. I love my family and will do whatever I can to make sure that Quinn receives all of the help and support that she needs.”

Osmanovic continues to assert to authorities that he and Gray had a six-week relationship that included trysts at his gas station, at a hotel and even at her home. He says Gray made him a house key and gave him the home’s security code — and gave him a cover story to use if anyone came to the door while he was there.

Miller asserts that Osmanovic’s claims, and the prosecutor’s contention that the pair were having an affair, are bogus.

“Not one e-mail, not one text message, not one cell phone record — there is nothing that supports their contention that it’s a faked kidnapping,” Miller said.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Police: Wealthy wife faked her own kidnapping

  1. Closed captioning of: Police: Wealthy wife faked her own kidnapping

    >>> had a lot of them.

    >>> but first, a bizarre story out of florida . a mother claimed she was kidnapped, tied up and held for ransom, but now police believe it was all a scheme. that woman's lawyers are with us exclusively. we'll talk to them in a moment. but first, nbc's peter alexander has the details on the story. peter, good morning.

    >> matt, good morning to you. even the sheriff in florida says this case reads like a novel, with allegations of sex, lies and extortion. a beautiful mother of two claiming she was kidnapped by gunmen and held for days against her will. her family was rightfully terrified. but now that she's safe, authorities aren't buying her story. they are portraits of what appears to be the all- american family . quinn gray , her husband reed, and their two young daughters. a couple married for ten years. attractive, wealthy and seemingly care-free. but this past labor day weekend , an improbable twist -- quinn disappeared from the couple's mul multimillion dollar beach front home near jacksonville, florida . the 37-year-old housewife later told authorities she was kidnapped at gunpoint and tied up, describing a hellish four days of forced captivity and sexual assault . nbc news has obtained a copy of this ransom note that quinn gray told investigators her abductor forced her to write to her husband. "there are three men holding me right now and they want $50,000 cash," she wrote, "stay at the house, no cops, keep your cell phone on you, keep the kids with you." "please do this, honey, please." but sheriff david shore says it was all a hoax.

    >> it became more and more evident, really to everyone involved, that it was something far more complex and involved than a kidnapping.

    >> reporter: the sheriff says gray wasn't a victim at all.

    >> quinn gray was not kidnapped. and we stand by that. and she'll have her day in court.

    >> reporter: gray was arrested last month for trying to extort $50,000 from her husband, a successful business owner who makes upwards of $70,000 a month.

    >> if i wanted $50,000, all i would do is take it out of the bank account .

    >> reporter: also arrested, this man, 25-year-old bosnian immigrant jasmine ismanovich, jailed on extortion charges. authorities say they had prepared their scheme for weeks. in more than 100 pages of recently released court documents, investigators say they stated several locations, including this jacksonville hotel, where the manager says they looked like boyfriend and girlfriend.

    >> i looked straight at her and said, hey. she said hey. didn't look like she was in distress at all.

    >> reporter: reed admits in court papers that their marriage became rocky in 2007 . both partners admit having affairs, but they have since reconciled. while he's stunned by the allegations, reed gray is standing by his wife and paying for her defense.

    >> i want her to feel great about everything after this is all over, and i think that's going to be the outcome.

    >> reporter: quinn gray 's lawyers say she was suffering from an untreated, undiagnosed manic phase of bipolar disorder and that in her poor mental state , she believed asmonovich's story, that her husband owed him $50,000. gray's lawyers say osmonovich's claims, including that they had an ongoing relationship are completely false.

    >> did you have a sexual relationship ?

    >> no, i did not. i did note know him.

    >> reporter: in his affidavit, he claims he first met gray at her home somewhere around the end of june. gray's lawyers say that's not possible, because at the time, she was in alcohol rehab in minnesota.

    >> what do you want to say to your family? do you have an apology to your family?

    >> i love you and i hope to see you soon.

    >> for now, quinn gray is in a mental health facility in georgia. that's a condition of her release from jail. both lawyers will be in court today, matt, for a pretrial hearing.

    >> peter alexander , thank you very much. mark miller and mr. dancha are two of quinn gray 's attorneys. gentlemen, nice to have you here.

    >> thank you.

    >> the prosecution's version of this story and quinn gray 's story couldn't be more different. basically, the prosecution says there was no kidnapping, she was not involved in this other than she was having a romantic and sexual relationship with this man. the guy at the hotel said she didn't seem to be under duress and there were chances for her to escape. several occasions she could have taken off. how do you explain that?

    >> i think it's important to note now, matt, that the prosecution and the sheriff don't necessarily share the same opinion about what happened that weekend, but the bottom line is, quinn gray on labor day weekend of this year was kidnapped during the midst of a manic phase of her bipolar disorder . her reaction to the kidnapping, it may seem bizarre, but it's all explained by her mental illness .

    >> does it also explain another piece of evidence that something could become an important piece of evidence -- there's an audio tape , and that apparently has a recording of sexual relations between these two people, mr. osmonovich and quinn , followed by what seems to be a rehearsal, a discussion of how they're going to cover all this up and explain this. can you tell me about that tape?

    >> well, actually, you know, the tape doesn't disclose what law enforcement --

    >> i have not heard the tape. i want to make sure people know that.

    >> it's currently being held as evidence, because as mark indicated, the state attorney's office doesn't necessarily hold the same opinion or conclusions as the sheriff. according to the state attorney's office, the matter is still under investigation. they're still unsure, we submit at this point, whether or not quinn gray is actually the victim of an abduction and rape.

    >> are you going to fight to stop that tape from being admitted as evidence?

    >> absolutely, absolutely. we believe that that tape is an audio recording of a woman who's been kidnapped, abducted and being raped.

    >> so you use the rape shield law to get that stricken from evidence?

    >> absolutely.

    >> let me make sure our viewers understand us. is it quinn gray 's assertion that she never met this man before or simply had no relationship romantic or sexual with him prior to this weekend?

    >> quinn gray had no relationship with this bosnian, osmanovic, prior to labor day weekend . he came by on two occasions prior to that weekend under the guise of misdelivering a package, and then he came back a few days later --

    >> so, he was at their case on two occasions.

    >> he brought a package and two days later came back saying it was misdelivered. that's how we believe he targeted her.

    >> so, you think he was casing the place --

    >> absolutely.

    >> -- or targeting her. and i would imagine the prosecution might say that's a way to cover two prior visits to her house by this man.

    >> but what's more telling is, on the second visit, when he came back to retrieve this package, quinn actually called reed and said, you remember that package that was misdelivered? the person's here to pick it up. where did you put it? so --

    >> this undiagnosed mental illness , bipolar condition, is there a history of mental illness in quinn gray 's family on her side?

    >> there is an extensive amount of history, and that's one of the reasons that it was untreated and undiagnosed. quinn has grown up with a stigma against recognizing what she was going through. she self-medicated for much of her adult life with alcohol. that led to an alcohol abuse problem. in the middle of this summer, she went to hazleton, a facility, and was treated for alcoholism. when she came back in middle of july , the next six weeks, she was untreated, undiagnosed and she was no longer self-medicating. she was in a manic phase of her bipolar disorder when she was kidnapped on labor day friday.

    >> let me read a quick statement from quinn 's husband, reed. "this has been an extraordinarily traumatic experience for me and my entire family. i'm deeply concerned over how this incident has and will continue to affect our children. i love my family and will do whatever i can to make sure that quinn receives all of the help and support that she needs." he is funding her defense, correct?

    >> he has been behind her rock solid, 100% from the beginning, yes.

    >> and she is right now in a psychiatric facility. how is she doing?

    >> she's doing rather well. of course, she's very anxious about what's going on. she's in the middle of her treatment, and she thought it was very important that we disclose and discuss, you know, the problems that she's had and what she's been going through so that other people that have these type of issues or disabilities, you know, it may be recognized. you know, what's telling is, quinn gray may not have reacted the way you or i would react or someone else would have reacted, but she's alive today. and so, however she did react, it was the appropriate thing she did at the time.

    >> lots of twists and turns and more to come in this.

    >> it is stunning that the sheriff is coming out and saying that he still believes this is a kidnapping. from the day quinn was abducted and released, reid gray has been asking, and they've been promising, we'll show you they knew each other before september 4th , 2009 . eight weeks have passed. not one e-mail, not one text message, not one cell phone record. they have done the computer searches. there is nothing that supports their contention that it's a faked kidnapping.

    >> guys, thank you for being here. we're going to follow this story closely.

    >> all right.

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