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Family Charged in Boy's Fake Kidnapping Meant Well, Lawyer Says

"None of these people did anything but try and protect this child from himself," an attorney representing one of four charged in a kidnap plot says.

The defense attorney representing one of three Missouri family members who allegedly conspired to stage the fake kidnapping of a 6-year-old boy to teach him a lesson about "stranger danger" said authorities have blown the case out of proportion, and that the family was only trying to help the boy.

"It will be seen that none of these people did anything but try and protect this child from himself," attorney Charlie James told NBC News Wednesday.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said the boy’s aunt, Denise Kroutil, 38, enlisted the help of a co-worker, Nathan Wynn Firoved, 23, to stage a kidnapping to scare the child, in what became a four-hour ordeal in which the boy was shown a handgun, tied up, kept in a basement and told that he could be sold into "sex slavery."

The boy’s mother, Elizabeth Hupp, 25, and grandmother, Rose Brewer, 58, agreed with the scheme, the sheriff’s office said. James represents Brewer. The sheriff's office said the boy though the kidnapping was real, and was "terrorized." All four remained jailed on felony kidnapping and child neglect charges Wednesday, according to court records.

The sheriff’s office has said the fake kidnapping was carried out over fears that the child was "too nice" to adults he did not know. James said the family were legitimately worried that the child could be abducted or abused.

"What you actually have here is a mother who very much feared for her child's safety," he said. James does not represent the child’s mother.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office, Lt. Andy Binder said, "The facts and the evidence in this case will speak for itself." The boy was taken from the home by the state Division of Family Services.

— Phil Helsel