Kidnapping victim’s frostbitten legs amputated after he was held in cold

James Davis of Knox County has been charged with kidnapping another county resident.
James Davis of Knox County has been charged with kidnapping another county resident. Kentucky State Police

A Knox County man who went missing for 17 days beginning in February was kidnapped and held in such difficult conditions that his injuries and severe frostbite required amputation of both his legs above the knee, according to authorities.

On Tuesday, state police charged James Davis, 21, of Artemus with kidnapping Douglas M. Middleton, 23.

Middleton told police that a second man was involved in the kidnapping. The investigation remains open.

One key question police have not been able to resolve is a motive for the kidnapping.

The case dates to Feb. 15, when Middleton’s guardian said Middleton had walked into the woods behind his house.

Middleton is disabled and had never left the house alone before, the guardian told police.

Middleton, who has a mental deficit, reportedly had not been taking his medication.

Volunteers searched for Middleton for days without success, but on March 3, a man who lived on the other side of the mountain from where Middleton went missing found him while searching in the woods, police said.

Middleton was alert, but he had to be carried out of the woods. He was flown to University of Tennessee Medical Center for treatment.

State police announced Tuesday that the investigation determined that Davis kidnapped Middleton from his house.

Middleton told police Davis forced him onto an all-terrain vehicle and kept him in a building in the woods for 17 days, according to police.

Davis admitted being involved but said he was the lookout man, police said.