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Kidnapping Suspect Makes First Local Court Appearance After Extradition from Nevada

Joseph Hetzel Click to view larger
Joseph Hetzel

Joseph Hetzel made his first appearance in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Monday after being extradited from Nevada on charges related to kidnapping and stalking his ex-girlfriend.

During the brief arraignment hearing, Judge Patricia Kelly set bail at $2 million and scheduled dates for Hetzel’s next court appearances after he pleaded not guilty.

He will return to Judge Gustavo Lavayen on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing setting, with the preliminary hearing set for Jan. 31.

Hetzel, 53, of Lompoc is accused of abducting his ex-girlfriend, Lompoc resident Virginia Paris, 55, in Solvang on Sept. 1, and taking her to Arizona and later Nevada, where they were spotted at different locations.

Paris was released at Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nevada, late Sept. 4, but Hetzel was not taken into custody until the following day.

Authorities were alerted to the incident when Paris texted a male coworker she had dated, saying only  “help,” according to the law enforcement declaration by Detective Travis Henderson to support the arrest warrant. 

Later text messages said “I am OK,” “I am fine,” “No one can help me.” and “101s,” which deputies believed meant they were southbound on Highway 101.

Days before the kidnapping, Paris had sought a temporary restraining order against Hetzel, but it had not been served.

Monday’s appearance came after several hearings in Nevada awaiting approval of his extradition to California. 

He was returned to Santa Barbara County late last week.

He has been charged with kidnapping during a carjacking and stalking, along with an enhancement because he has a prior strike under the California Three Strikes Sentencing Law. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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