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Former LaSalle County deputy pleads guilty to 2017 kidnapping

Ambler sentenced to 10 years in prison

Lowell M. Ambler
Lowell M. Ambler

DIXON — A former LaSalle County deputy who led officers on a four-day, multicounty manhunt was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping a 14-year-old girl nearly two years ago.

Lowell “Max” Ambler, 48, of Mendota was indicted Oct. 20, 2017, in Lee County Court on two counts of home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, two counts of kidnapping, criminal trespass to a residence and unlawful restraint.

He pleaded guilty July 25 to felony kidnapping and secret confinement, and the remaining charges were dismissed. He will get credit for the 662 days he has already spent in jail.

According to investigators and court records:

Ambler entered a Compton home Aug. 26, 2017, where his ex-girlfriend’s then-14-year-old daughter was babysitting.

While “wearing a hood, robe or mask,” Ambler duct-taped her hands and head and held her against her will “with the intent to secretly confine” her.

He grabbed the girl, pushed her head into a couch then dragged her through the house, pushing her down the outside steps. He picked her up, choked her from behind, duct-taped her hands behind her back and dragged her to a shed.

As she pleaded for him not to kill her, he duct-taped her around her head and mouth. She couldn’t breathe and passed out, and he tossed her into a bean field, still taped up.

A car arrived, Ambler took off, the girl broke free, and officers were called.

He was arrested that Sept. 15, and posted $25,000 bail five days later, but while out on bond, Ambler violated the terms of his release by sending text and Snapchat messages to girl’s mother, who had an order of protection against him, investigators said.

Arrest warrants were issued in Lee and LaSalle counties, then authorities were notified Oct. 3 that Ambler had stolen a corn-hauling semitrailer and might be headed to Plainfield, where the girl and her mother were staying. He was believed to be armed with a .45-caliber handgun and considered dangerous, police said.

Plainfield police found the stolen semitrailer, and later, using a handgun, Ambler carjacked a vehicle in Plainfield; it was later found in woods south of his hometown of Earlville, where he was arrested Oct. 6 after a standoff.

As a result, Ambler also was indicted Oct. 25 in Will County on four felonies: armed robbery, which carries 6 to 30 years; aggravated robbery and robbery of a victim who is older than 60 or disabled, each of which carries 4 to 15 years; and unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle.

In July, Ambler pleaded guilty to the aggravated robbery charge in Will County and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 6. The three other charges were dismissed as part of his plea agreement.

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