Sheriff’s Office Releases Details of Kidnapping Case
Santa Barbara – August 6th, 2017
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is releasing details regarding the kidnapping case involving 55-year-old Virginia Paris and 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel of Lompoc. After three days of being held against her will, we are grateful that the victim is safe and that the perpetrator is in custody. This dynamic case involved teams of Sheriff’s detectives and law enforcement agencies across three states as well as participation from the public and the media in order to locate Paris and Hetzel.
Due to the need to find the victim as quickly as possible, the Sheriff’s Office dedicated a large number of detectives to this case. Detectives traveled to Nevada and Arizona to conduct follow up investigation and attempt to locate Hetzel while simultaneously, detectives in both Santa Barbara County and Arizona continued to follow up on additional leads and collect evidence. While the investigation is ongoing, the Sheriff’s Office is able to release some details of the events that occurred over the past four days.
The investigation reveals that on September 1, 2017, at approximately 6:30 p.m. Hetzel followed Paris in her vehicle after she left work in the City of Solvang. She pulls over in the 1600 block of Mission Drive and the two get into a verbal dispute. When she tries to leave, the suspect forces his way into her vehicle. He takes over driving her car and heads southbound on Highway 101. The victim texts a family member for help who then calls the Sheriff’s Office. When a deputy calls the victim’s phone, she answers and indicates she is in trouble and needs help. The suspect then takes the phone away from the victim.
The investigation reveals during the kidnap, the victim lived in constant fear of the suspect and anytime the couple was in a public setting, the suspect kept physical control of the victim. The suspect eventually makes it to the town of Goodyear, Arizona stopping at a Starbucks at approximately 7:15 a.m. on September 3, 2017. The victim uses an opportunity at the coffee shop where the suspect is not in physical control of her to tell a customer she needs help. During this exchange, the suspect grabs her and physically removes her from Starbucks. He forces her into the vehicle while she is actively resisting. A witness attempts to follow the vehicle but gives up when the suspect runs a red light. The witness sees the victim throw her registration out of the vehicle. Goodyear Police Officers immediately respond and notify the Sheriff’s Office of the sighting of the victim and suspect.
The suspect continues to drive Paris’ vehicle and on September 3, 2017, they eventually stop at the Grand Canyon Inn in Valle, Arizona. The suspect does not let the victim leave the room and keeps physical control of the victim. At checkout on Monday, September 4, 2017, the victim had a moment where she was not physically close to the suspect. She uses the opportunity to tell the clerk that she is a kidnapping victim. She requests the clerk to call law enforcement and reveals that they may be headed to Las Vegas.
They make their way to the Las Vegas area. On Monday evening, September 4, 2017, he agrees to allow the victim to use a cell phone and call her children. Paris places two calls to a family member and indicates that she is in the Henderson area. The family member immediately calls the Sheriff’s Office. The victim is able to gain the suspect’s confidence that she will not try to escape and will rent a hotel room for the night. While the suspect is parking the vehicle, Paris walks into the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino and immediately notifies hotel staff that she is a kidnapping victim and needs help. Casino security take the victim to a safe location. Henderson Police Officers respond but the suspect has already fled the area. At approximately 2:30 a.m. on September 5, 2017, Paris’ black Chrysler sedan, is located in a residential area in Mesquite, Nevada.
Late yesterday afternoon, Sheriff’s detectives received information that Hetzel had returned to the greater Las Vegas/Henderson area. Investigators continued to follow up leads which led them to Dotty’s Lounge located in the 100 block of E. Bruner in Las Vegas. The Henderson Police Department working with Sheriff’s detectives, located a stolen vehicle taken from Mesquite in the parking lot. Henderson Police Officers located Hetzel inside just before 6 p.m. and took him into custody without incident.
Hetzel is booked at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada on charges of carjacking and kidnapping with bail set at one million dollars. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office will seek his extradition back to California.
The Sheriff’s Office wants to take this opportunity to recognize the public’s assistance during this investigation which helped lead to a successful rescue of the victim and apprehension of the suspect. From the witnesses who listened, got involved and called their local law enforcement, to the local friends and family who provided critical information to law enforcement, to the many members of the public that were looking for Paris’ vehicle and providing tips. Thanks also to the media who helped get important information out along the way.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our appreciation to the many agencies that committed resources and time to this kidnapping case. We would especially like to thank the Goodyear Police Department, Mesquite Police Department, Henderson Police Department, Chino Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Nevada Highway Patrol, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Coconino Sheriff’s Office, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI Criminal Apprehension Team and the many others who assisted in this case.
This case exemplifies the community and law enforcement partnership in both Santa Barbara County and other communities across three states who worked together to bring Virginia Paris home safely and to locate the suspect, Joseph Hetzel.
Kidnapping Victim Safe, Suspect In CUSTODY
Kidnapping suspect, 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel of Lompoc, is in custody. Just before 6:00 p.m. tonight, September 5, 2017, Hetzel was located and taken into custody without incident in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hetzel is being booked at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada on charges of carjacking and kidnapping with bail set at one million dollars.
This is a dynamic investigation in its early stages involving an area encompassing three states and multiple jurisdictions. The Sheriff’s Office will release more details tomorrow as they become available. No additional information will be released at this time.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to report that 55-year-old Virginia Paris of Lompoc is safe with family and law enforcement in Nevada. Just before 9:00 p.m. last night, September 4, 2017, Paris placed two calls to a family member. The first call was short and indicated that she was coming home. The second call was her calling for help and providing information that she was in the Henderson, Nevada area. The family member called to notify the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement agencies began coordinating search efforts.
At approximately 11:00 p.m. last night, kidnapping suspect, 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel of Lompoc, dropped Paris off in front of the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nevada and drove away. Paris summoned for help and casino staff contacted the Henderson Police Department. When officers arrived, Paris told them that Hetzel may be on his way to Utah. Henderson Police Officers took Paris to a local hospital where she was treated, medically cleared and reunited with family in Nevada.
The Sheriff’s Office worked closely with local authorities and at approximately 2:30 a.m. this morning, Mesquite Police Officers located Paris’ vehicle, a 2015 black Chrysler 200 abandoned in the 300 block of Emmarene Street in Mesquite, Nevada. Hetzel is still at large and there is a warrant out for his arrest.
Sheriff’s detectives are in route to Nevada to meet with Paris and to provide services. Detectives will also be conducting follow up investigation and will assist in the search to find Hetzel. The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the Mesquite Police Department, authorities in Nevada and Arizona as well as the FBI.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to caution members of the public that if they see Hetzel to not approach him but to call 911 immediately. The Sheriff’s Office requests privacy for the victim as she recovers emotionally and physically from a traumatic experience. We appreciate the outpouring of support and well wishes from residents in Santa Barbara County, California, Arizona and Nevada. We are grateful that Virginia Paris is safe and resting with her family.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has learned that kidnapping suspect Joseph Hetzel and kidnapping victim Virginia Paris are possibly headed to the Las Vegas area. At approximately 7:30 a.m. this morning, September 4, 2017, the two checked out of the Grand Canyon Inn in Valle, Arizona where they had spent the night. The Sheriff’s Office is releasing surveillance photos from the hotel that show Hetzel and Paris during the checkout process. Information gathered at that time, indicates that Paris continues to be held against her will and that the two were possibly on their way to Las Vegas, Nevada. They are still believed to be driving in Paris’ black 2015 Chrysler 200 with a CA License number of 7NGE514.
The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the FBI and law enforcement in Nevada and Arizona to locate Paris and Hetzel. Be on the lookout alerts have been sent to all of the law enforcement agencies in both states as well as California. The Sheriff’s Office is requesting members of the public to call 911 immediately if you see Hetzel, Paris or her vehicle. For anonymous tips, please call the Sheriff’s Anonymous Tip-Line at 805-681-4171 or go to http://www.sbsheriff.org/anonymoustips.html. Hetzel is considered dangerous and may be armed. If you see Hetzel, do not approach him, but call 911.
The investigation began at approximately 7:30 p.m. on September 1, 2017 when Sheriff’s deputies learned that 55-year-old Virginia Paris had been kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel shortly after she left work in the City of Solvang. She had recently sought a restraining order against Hetzel who has served time for crimes related to a domestic incident.
Goodyear Arizona –
At approximately 7:15 a.m. this morning, September 3, 2017, kidnapping victim, Virginia Paris and kidnapping suspect, Joseph Hetzel, were seen at a Starbucks located in the 1300 block of N. Litchfield Road in Goodyear, Arizona. When Paris ordered her coffee drink, she gave the name Virginia. She then went to the bathroom and when she came out, she told a female customer in the coffee shop that she needed help. Hetzel saw this interaction, grabbed her and dragged her out of the shop. He then kicked her into a vehicle and drove off at a high rate of speed. As the vehicle drove off, Paris threw her car registration out of the door and it was recovered by Goodyear Police Officers. The vehicle being used is still Paris’ black 2015 Chrysler 200 with a CA License number of 7NGE514. The vehicle was last seen entering the I-10 Freeway eastbound towards Phoenix.
The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the Goodyear Police Department and other Arizona authorities to locate and find Paris and Hetzel. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). A description of the vehicle and the photos of both Paris and Hetzel have been sent to Arizona law enforcement and to the local media.
The Sheriff’s Office is deeply concerned for Paris’ safety and has a large amount of resources dedicated to this case. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Virginia Paris or Joseph Hetzel should call 911. To leave an anonymous tip, please call the Sheriff’s Anonymous Tip-Line at 805-681-4171 or go to http://www.sbsheriff.org/anonymoustips.html. If you see Hetzel, do not approach him but call 911 immediately.
Solvang – September 2nd, 2017
At approximately 7:30 p.m., yesterday, September 1, 2017, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office began investigating a potential kidnapping that occurred in the City of Solvang earlier in the day. During the ensuing investigation, deputies developed information which suggests the victim, 55-year-old Virginia Paris of Lompoc, was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel of Lompoc.
Evidence suggests that after leaving the City of Solvang, Paris and Hetzel drove southbound on Highway 101 towards Ventura County and were last known to be in the Camarillo area. The subjects are believed to be driving Paris’ black 2015 Chrysler 200 with a CA License number of 7NGE514. Calls to both Paris and Hetzel’s phones have been unsuccessful, and they are believed to be off or non-functioning.
Paris is described as a white female adult, 55-years-old, approximately 5’06/150lbs, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a light colored shirt. Associates of Paris report that she recently sought a restraining order against Hetzel which was granted, but has yet to be served.
Hetzel is described as a white male adult, 52-years-old, approximately 6’02/195lbs, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a light blue colored shirt. Hetzel has previously served time in prison for possession of items used to make explosive devices, using explosive devices with the intent to terrorize, felony vandalism and criminal threats. Hetzel is believed to have access to firearms and should be considered armed and dangerous. Members of the public are encouraged that if they locate Hetzel not to approach or contact him.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of either Virginia Paris or Joseph Hetzel are asked to immediately contact 911. To leave an anonymous tip, call 805-681-4171 or go to http://www.sbsheriff.org/anonymoustips.html.
For Media Inquires Contact PIO Kelly Hoover
Business Hours: (805) 681-4100