Woodstock man charged as accomplice in brutal 2023 Des Plaines kidnapping

Eric Grens

A Woodstock man is facing kidnapping and battery charges after Des Plaines police say he was a “significant participant” in a brutal kidnapping and car theft scheme that has already resulted in two other arrests.

Authorities said Friday that Eric Grens, 33, of the 11300 block of Ballard Road in Woodstock, helped orchestrate the kidnapping and torture of three employees from a Des Plaines car dealership in February 2023.

“Through phone forensics, investigators were able to identify Grens as a significant participant in the crimes that occurred,” Des Plaines police Commander Matt Bowler said in a news release.

Police said Grens coordinated the kidnappings and told his accomplices to bring the victims to his house in Woodstock.

“Grens told the same co-defendant to knock the victims’ teeth out and make them feel like they are going to die,” Bowler said.

Grens was arrested Wednesday in a parking lot in Lake in the Hills, police said.

According to police records, two owners and an employee of a car dealership in Des Plaines were attacked and kidnapped from the dealership on the 600 block of East Northwest Highway by several armed individuals wearing ski masks about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10, 2023.

They were driven to Woodstock and, once there, the kidnappers burned, beat and threatened the victims and demanded money, police said.

The next day the three victims were taken back to the dealership and left inside a van while their attackers stole money and vehicles, then fled.

One of the victims identified two men involved in the ordeal, George P. Athanasakos, 25, of Wood Dale, and Brandon D. Bratcher, 28, of Hanover Park, police said.

Athanasakos was arrested days later in a car in Palatine, police said. Property belonging to one of the victims was found in the car, police documents show.

Bratcher was arrested in March of 2023, police records show.

Both men remain in custody at the Cook County jail.