Local News

Ex-deputy pleads not guilty to 7 felonies

Lowell "Max" Ambler[]

DIXON – A former LaSalle County deputy who led police on a four-day, multicounty manhunt after they say he kidnapped a girl pleaded not guilty in Lee County Court Tuesday to seven felonies, including home invasion and kidnapping.

Lowell “Max” Ambler, 46, of Mendota, was indicted Oct. 20 on two counts of home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, two counts of kidnapping, criminal trespass to a residence and unlawful restraint. The first three counts carry six to 30 years in prison; kidnapping carries two to seven years, and the rest one to three years.

Ambler is in Lee County Jail on $1 million bond. He has a pretrial hearing Nov. 30.

He is accused of entering a Compton home on Aug. 26, where his ex-girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter was baby-sitting, and, while “wearing a hood, robe or mask,” duct-taped her hands and head and held her against her will “with the intent to secretly confine” her.

According to court records, 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.

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

He was arrested Sept. 15, and posted $25,000 bail on Sept. 20.

While out on bond, Ambler violated the terms of his release by sending text and Snapchat messages to the girl’s mother, who had an order of protection against him, court records show.

Arrest warrants were issued in Lee and LaSalle counties for violating the conditions of his bail bond and violating the protective order.

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 found in woods south of his hometown of Earlville, where he was arrested Oct. 6 after a standoff, police said.

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

He pleaded not guilty the next day, and has a pretrial hearing there Wednesday.

He hired attorney Edward Johnson to represent him in both cases.