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Lompoc Woman Found Safe in Nevada, Kidnapping Suspect Arrested

Kidnapping suspect Joseph Hetzel was arrested Tuesday night. Click to view larger
Kidnapping suspect Joseph Hetzel was arrested Tuesday night. 

A Lompoc woman kidnapped last week was found safe in Nevada Monday, and her alleged abductor was arrested Tuesday night, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. 

The search for Virginia Paris, 55, has spanned three states since she was kidnapped, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, Joseph Hetzel, 52, of Lompoc, on Friday. 

Paris made phone calls to a family member Monday night indicating she was coming home, asking for help and saying she was in the Henderson, Nevada area, sheriff's department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. 

A few hours later, at 11 p.m. Monday, Hetzel dropped Paris off in front of the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson and drove away, Hoover said. 

Paris asked for help and casino staff contacted police, who took Paris to a local hospital where she was medically cleared and reunited with family in Nevada, Hoover said. 

Paris told authorities that Hetzel may be on his way to Utah, Hoover added.

Overnight, police from Mesquite found Paris' vehicle, a 2015 black Chrysler 200, abandoned in the city, which Hetzel and Paris were traveling in since they left Santa Barbara County. 

Mesquite, in Clark County, Nevada, is about 100 northeast of Henderson, near the Nevada and Arizona border.  

The Sheriff's Department said that Hetzel was arrested in Las Vegas around 6 p.m. Tuesday and was booked at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada on $1-million bail on charges of carjacking and kidnapping. 

Virginia Paris Click to view larger
Virginia Paris

"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," Hoover said. 

The search had shifted to the Las Vegas area after Hetzel and Paris were spotted at an Arizona hotel and coffee shop. 

Santa Barbara County sheriff's detectives are working with the FBI and authorities in Nevada and Arizona in the investigation, Hoover said. 

"The Sheriff’s Office requests privacy for the victim as she recovers emotionally and physically from a traumatic experience," Hoover said in a statement.

"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."

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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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