NH man pleads guilty in North Salem kidnapping, slaying

A New Hampshire man pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering and kidnapping a Florida man with the help of an aspiring model, prosecutors said.

Charles Blanchard, 22, faces 25 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in Westchester County Court.

Authorities say Blanchard was one of four people responsible for the death of Epifanio Medina, a Florida man who was living in Passaic, N.J., when he was killed in June 2011. One of Blanchard's accomplices -- Jessica Ryan French, 24, an aspiring model who is Blanchard's half sister -- pleaded guilty in May 2012 after she was extradited to New York.


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Two others -- Travis Morin, 25, of Danbury, and Patrick Smith, 25, of Florida -- are awaiting trial, according to the Westchester County district attorney's office.

Authorities said the four nabbed Medina in early June and ultimately left him in North Salem, where his decomposing body later was found by a pair of horseback riders on June 12, 2011. A police investigation revealed Medina's family had reported him missing, and detectives began a wide-ranging probe from Florida to New Hampshire.

Medina, prosecutors said, "was known to carry large amounts of cash and wore a lot of flashy jewelry," and Blanchard, French and the other two suspects allegedly chose him as a possibly lucrative robbery target, authorities said. Medina was last seen leaving a Passaic, N.J., liquor store that he was known to frequent.

The case was heard in Westchester County because Blanchard and his alleged accomplices left the dying victim in North Salem.

Blanchard is due back in court March 27 for sentencing. A court-appointed attorney who represented the New Hampshire man could not be reached Wednesday.

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