Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 9:41 pm | Fair 46º


Local News

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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >