Woman sentenced for role in David Heisler’s kidnapping, death

In this file photo, Tammy Renee Freeman at a 2016 hearing in 5th District Court in St. George, Utah. Freeman was sentenced Tuesday to up to 15 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping and death of David Heisler. | Photo courtesy of 5th District Court video pool, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A woman involved in the 2016 kidnapping and death of a Santa Clara father was sentenced Tuesday in St. George.

David Heisler with his daughter, Mariah, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Justice for David Heisler Facebook page, St. George News

Tammy Renee Freeman, 55, of Washington City, was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $10,000 restitution at a hearing in the 5th District Courthouse.

Freeman pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to felony charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary and vehicle theft in connection with the death of David Heisler in 2016.

As part of the plea agreement, the charges for kidnapping and burglary were reduced from first-degree felonies to second-degree felonies.

The Heisler family had been consulted prior to the agreement and agreed to it.

Freeman also had been charged in Arizona with murder and kidnapping, but, per the plea deal, Arizona and the U.S. Attorney’s office did not pursue those charges.

Read more: Washington City woman pleads guilty to role in David Heisler’s kidnapping, death

“The heartbreaking part about today is that (Freeman) still wasn’t being accountable for her actions,” said Suzun Abbott, a close friend of the Heisler family who attended Freeman’s hearing. “She was using excuses that we know are not true.”

Freeman was accused of driving the co-defendants, Francis McCard and Kelly Perry, to the home of Heisler, where he was kidnapped. Heisler was taken to the Arizona Strip, where he was beaten and left for dead about 40 miles away from his home.

Following the kidnapping, there was an extensive seven-and-a-half-week search for Heisler before his body was discovered by a geologist in the Mt. Trumbull area of the Arizona Strip.

L to R: Francis Lee McCard, Kelley Marie Perry and Tammy Freeman, booking photos posted July 2016 | Photos courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

According to a victim impact statement read at the hearing by Debbie Heisler, David Heisler’s stepmother, the family’s nightmares will “never go away knowing that (David) suffered beyond all comprehension.

“Our son did not have a chance to reach a plea deal with anyone. We know he begged for his life, he was out in the desert in triple-degree weather with no water, no shoes and no shelter.”

Abbott said the person who suffered the most from this tragedy is David Heisler’s daughter Mariah.

The girl’s mother is Perry, who is accused of instigating Heisler’s kidnapping to “scare” him after he had been awarded sole custody of Mariah two weeks before he was kidnapped.

A photo of David Heisler and his daughter, Mariah, photo date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of David Heisler’s Facebook page, St. George News

“She lost her father and her mother both on the same day,” Abbott said. “It didn’t have to be that way.”

Abbott is now working with Debbie Heisler to establish the Blue Butterfly House in St. George to provide a place for court-ordered supervised visits between children and parents or other loved ones. The Blue Butterfly House will open May 16 after several days for an open house, Abbott said.

“There are a lot of drug problems and mental health problems across our country, but people don’t realize the child’s perspective,” Abbott said. “They just think, ‘Oh, that parent’s a drug addict; they’re stupid or they’re dumb.’ Well, that person has a child, and that child is innocent.”

In a statement on the Blue Butterfly House website, Debbie Heisler said it’s now her life’s work to serve the community in honor of her son and granddaughter Mariah.

“If we can assist one family in providing a safe environment by which a child can continue a relationship with a loved one, then we have made a difference,” Debbie Heisler’s statement on the website reads.

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • Mean Momma April 11, 2018 at 4:22 am

    Sad… she should have gotten more time. Can’t be accountable, making excuses, she is nothing more than an old meth head who Provides no value to society. I hope she serves the max.

    • Sparky April 11, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Im with ya mean momma, im hoping she gets in an altercation in jail and gets blamed for it for some more time.

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