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Lompoc Man Accused of Abducting Ex-Girlfriend Makes Brief Court Appearance

Joseph Hetzel Click to view larger
Joseph Hetzel

A man accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and taking her to other states last year made a brief appearance in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.

Joseph Hetzel, 53, of Lompoc, appeared before Judge James Iwasko for a short hearing. 

Hetzel is charged with kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking and stalking along with an allegation this would be his second strike under the California Three Strikes Sentencing Law.

The Lompoc man is accused of abducting his ex-girlfriend, 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 the 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 Hetzel and Paris were traveling southbound on Highway 101.

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

After the extradition process was completed, Hetzel was returned to Santa Barbara County in January. 

During Wednesday’s hearing, defense attorney Adrienne Harbottle, sought one more delay, saying additional discovery was needed.

Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson agreed to the postponement.

When Hetzel returns to court June 27, the judge expects to set the date for a preliminary hearing to determine if enough evidence exists for the defendant to stand trial for the charges.

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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