Kidnapped California woman found in Las Vegas area; ex-boyfriend still at large

Posted at 7:32 AM, Sep 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-05 10:34:02-04

A woman allegedly kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend in Santa Barbara County last week was found safe in the Las Vegas area early Tuesday morning.

Melissa Villalba told 10News' Scripps sister station KTNV that her mother, 55-year-old Virginia Paris, was dropped off at the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson.

Paris' alleged kidnapper, 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel, remains at large and may be driving in Paris' 2015 Chrysler 200 with California license plate number 7NGE514.

Hetzel is 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighs about 195 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue-colored shirt.

RELATED: Kidnapped woman from California and suspect spotted at Arizona Starbucks

According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, Hetzel allegedly kidnapped Paris in Solvang, California, on Sept. 1, and drove her to Arizona.

On Sunday morning, Hetzel and Paris were spotted at a Starbucks store in Goodyear, Arizona. Authorities said Paris ordered a coffee drink under her name, and when she was at the coffee shop, she told a customer she needed help. Hetzel apparently saw the interaction, grabbed her and pulled her out of the store. He then pushed her into a vehicle and drove off quickly, authorities said.

While they were taking off, Paris threw out her car registration paperwork, which was recovered by the Goodyear Police Department.

Authorities said the pair checked out of a Grand Canyon-area motel on Monday and traveled to Las Vegas.

Hetzel has served time in prison for possession of items used to make explosive devices, using explosive devices with the intent to terrorize, criminal threats and felony vandalism. Authorities believe the man has access to firearms and should be considered armed and dangerous. If seen, he should not be approached or contacted.

According to authorities, Paris had previously sought a restraining order against Hetzel.

Authorities in Nevada and Arizona are working with the FBI on the case. Anonymous tips can be left by calling (805) 681-4171 or left online here.