A Lompoc man suspected of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and driving her across state lines was located Tuesday night and taken into custody in Las Vegas, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Joseph Hetzel, 52, was taken into custody without incident just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, a day after Virginia Paris, 55, also of Lompoc, was freed by her abductor. Hetzel was booked at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada on charges of carjacking and kidnapping with bail set at $1 million.

The investigation is in its early stages involving an area encompassing three states and multiple jurisdictions. The Sheriff’s Office will release more details Wednesday as they become available.

Just before 9 p.m. Monday, Paris placed two calls to a family member. 

The first call was short and indicated she was coming home, with the second being a call for help and providing information that she was near Henderson, Nevada, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.

The family member called the Sheriff's Office, which contacted authorities in Las Vegas, and a search for the missing woman was initiated.

Two hours later, at 11 p.m., Hetzel dropped Paris off outside the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson and drove away. Paris sought help from the casino staff, which contacted the Henderson Police Department, the spokeswoman said

When officers arrived at the scene, Paris told them that Hetzel may be on his way to Utah. Paris was taken to a local hospital where she was treated, medically cleared and reunited with family in Nevada, the spokeswoman said.

The Sheriff's Office worked closely with authorities in Nevada and early Tuesday, police officers in Mesquite located Paris' vehicle, a 2015 black Chrysler 200, abandoned in that city.

Sheriff's deputies began investigating the incident Friday when they received information that Paris was allegedly kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, Hetzel.

Evidence suggested the pair left Solvang that day in Paris' vehicle after she got off work and drove south toward Camarillo. The couple were spotted early Sunday morning in Goodyear, Arizona, at a Starbucks, where Paris gave the name "Virginia" when she ordered, the spokeswoman said.

Paris reportedly told a female customer she needed help, but Hetzel witnessed the interaction, grabbed Paris and forced her back into the car. The pair were later seen speeding off toward the I-10 freeway, the spokeswoman said.

April Charlton covers Santa Barbara County for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter@WordsDawn

 

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