Lompoc kidnapping suspect taken into custody in Nevada

Virginia Paris and Joseph Hetzel.
Virginia Paris and Joseph Hetzel.

A Lompoc man suspected of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend was arrested Tuesday night in Las Vegas, according to a release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

About 6 p.m. Tuesday, authorities arrested 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel on suspicion of carjacking and kidnapping, a news release said. Hetzel was booked into Henderson Detention Center in Nevada and his bail was set at $1 million.

The kidnapping victim, 55-year-old Virginia Paris, also of Lompoc, was safely located and is with family and law enforcement in Nevada, the release said.

“This is a dynamic investigation in its early stages involving an area encompassing three states and multiple jurisdictions,” said Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Hetzel reportedly abducted Paris last Friday night in Solvang, then took Paris to Arizona and Nevada before releasing her.

About 11 p.m. Monday, Hetzel reportedly dropped Paris off in front of the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nevada, and drove away.

When officers arrived, Paris told police Hetzel may have been on his way to Utah. Paris was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated, medically cleared and reunited with family, the release said.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office will release more details Wednesday as they become available.

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