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Kidnapping suspect blames love

Darkness on Old Dixie Highway, about 7 p.m. Sunday, near the old limestone mine, where mangrove snapper lurk in the shallows and trespassers bathe in pools of coruscating green. Here comes a pickup truck, bouncing south toward Hudson. The driver has his daughter's names tattooed on his wrists. His girlfriend rides shotgun, duct tape on her waist.

A patrol car sits in the distance, a sheriff's deputy guarding the mine. The woman sees her chance. She opens the door.

"Are you crazy?" the man says, grabbing her shoulder.

She breaks free, falls from the truck, runs to the deputy. The man stops the truck and gets out.

The deputy draws his gun.

The man surrenders.

He is arrested and charged with kidnapping. Things do not look good for Raymond James Kelly. The authorities say he made his 38-year-old girlfriend, Shirley Ann Blesnuk of Spring Hill call relatives to say final goodbyes, that he bound her hands and took her for a long ride down a lonely road by the water, that he told her he hoped she knew how to swim.

The area around the SunWest Mine is so attractive to miscreants that property owner Gary Grubbs pays off-duty sheriff's deputies to patrol there every night and all weekend.

"There's a lot of bad stuff that goes on out here," Grubbs said. "Drug deals, dead bodies. ... Thank God (the deputy) was out here last night or that poor girl wouldn't be alive right now."

But Kelly says he is merely a family man, perhaps unfaithful to his wife, perhaps abusive to his girlfriend, mostly misunderstood.

In an interview at the Land O'Lakes Jail on Monday afternoon, where he was held in lieu of $100,000 bail, Kelly, 34, of 9768 Horizon Drive, Spring Hill, said this was a case of a man who loved too much.

He married young, had two daughters, worked construction, and one day he got tired of it all and ran off with Blesnuk. He divorced his wife, Bobbi, in August. Still, Blesnuk was jealous. She wanted him to cut off all contact with Bobbi.

And that was a problem, because on Saturday he decided that he missed Bobbi. He wanted his family back.

Kelly and Blesnuk did some drinking on Sunday, and the feelings intensified, and presently there was shoving. He admits to pushing her. He even admits to duct-taping her hands. But he says he freed them soon thereafter, though the tape still clung to her waist, and he claims she got in the truck voluntarily.

No, no, no, he says. It wasn't a murder plot - he just wanted to talk things over at Sam's, the bar on Hudson Beach, and he took the back way to avoid the police.

In addition to the Pasco charge of kidnapping, he faces Hernando County charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment and domestic battery.

He says he still loves Blesnuk.

He says he still loves Bobbi.

Both of them?

"I think so."

Times staff writers Jonathan Abel and Molly Moorhead and researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report. Thomas Lake can be reached at or 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.