TUCSON, Ariz. — A former Miss Pima County and current University of Arizona law school student has been freed on bond and authorities are searching for an ex-boyfriend accused of helping her kidnap and assault another former boyfriend.
An indictment and police descriptions of Kumari Fulbright's alleged actions in early December seem to contradict her public persona as a Tucson beauty queen and serious student who just finished a semester as an unpaid extern for a federal judge.
The 25-year-old, midway through her second year in law school, faces a long prison term if convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated assault.
A Dec. 18 indictment in Pima County Superior Court accused Fulbright of forcibly holding and torturing a 24-year-old former boyfriend 10 days earlier with the help of three other men, including an earlier ex.
Tucson police are looking to serve that former boyfriend, Robert Ergonis, 44, and his brother, Michael Ergonis, 46, with arrest warrants charging them with kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault, but believe they may have fled the country.
"Through the course of our investigation, we were able to determine that at least Robert Ergonis may have traveled to Colombia, so he may have returned or gone somewhere else," said police spokesman Sgt. Fabian Pacheco.
Larry Hammond, 40, who was indicted with Fulbright, remains jailed under $50,000 bond, but Fulbright was freed after arranging to have a similar bond posted.
Pacheco said the victim knew Ergonis. He also said he didn't know whether revenge was involved.
Police believe the incident was centered around jewelry that Ergonis gave Fulbright that the victim allegedly stole, Pacheco said.
He gave this account:
Fulbright invited the victim to her apartment in a single-story midtown duplex and excused herself to shower after he arrived.
The Ergonis brothers then showed up and bound him with plastic cable ties and duct tape, accused him of taking the jewelry and threatened to shoot him with pistols.
Fulbright finished her shower, dressed and returned to join in the threats.
She allegedly bit the man on his forearm, right hand and ear, and she stuck a butcher knife in his ear and told him she was going to kill him.
After a time, they took him to Hammond's house elsewhere in the city, where the assault continued, then returned him to Fulbright's house and left him tied up with Fulbright holding him with a handgun. At some later point, the victim freed a hand and grabbed the gun, which discharged but hit no one.
As their struggle spilled outside, the man screamed for help, then ran to a home down the block, while Fulbright returned to her apartment.
"He has some bite marks on him, evident and consistent with his account, and his hands were red and swollen, consistent with someone who had been tied up," Pacheco said.
Pacheco said Fulbright subsequently spoke with detectives, but declined to specify what she said.
"It's premature to talk about what might occur" to Fulbright in terms of disciplinary action within the College of Law, spokesman Nancy Stanley said.
She said the law school has an honor code that deals primarily with academic integrity, while the university's broader code of conduct includes off-campus and out-of-school activity.
She declined further comment, and faculty members similarly declined comment, citing student privacy.
The law school is on break from classes until Jan. 16.
Fulbright's phone is out of service and her apartment was unoccupied Wednesday, without any furniture. Efforts were made also to contact her through MySpace.
Calls to Fulbright's attorney, Thomas Hartzell, and to the Miss Pima County pageant, which Fulbright won in 2005, were not returned. She also was selected Miss Desert Sun in 2006 and sought the Miss Arizona title those two years.
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