SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Kidnapping suspect Joseph Hetzel, 52, accused of taking 55-year-old Virginia Paris, was arrested just before 6 p.m. Tuesday without incident in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Our sister station KVVU in Las Vegas reported that Hetzel was arrested at Dotty's Gaming and Spirits on the 100 block of East Bruner Avenue.
Authorities said Hetzel was booked at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada on charges of carjacking and kidnapping. His bail is set at $1 million.
"She's obviously been through a lot and she's with family and detectives are in the process of speaking with her," Kelly Hoover with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said.
Wednesday afternoon, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office talked to us about Hetzel's previous run-ins with the law.
"He served time in prison for crimes that were related to a domestic incident.. they were in the process of splitting up and she had obtained a restraining order," Hoover said.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office released additional details in the Paris' kidnapping Wednesday afternoon. According to a preliminary investigation report, At 6:30 p.m. September 1, 2017, Hetzel followed Paris who was driving away from her workplace.
Paris pulls over in the 1600 block of Mission Drive after noticing Hetzel following her and the two get into a verbal argument, according to authorities. When she tries to leave, the suspect forces his way into her car and takes over driving before heading southbound on U.S. Highway 101.
Paris then texts a family member for help who in turn calls the Sheriff's Office. A deputy calls Paris' phone and she tells the deputy she is in trouble and needs help. Authorities said it is at this point when Hetzel takes Paris' phone away from her.
The following is an extended excerpt from a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office press release regarding the case:
The investigation reveals during the kidnap, the victim lived in constant fear of the suspect and anytime the couple was in a public setting, the suspect kept physical control of the victim. The suspect eventually makes it to the town of Goodyear, Arizona stopping at a Starbucks at approximately 7:15 a.m. on September 3, 2017.
The victim uses an opportunity at the coffee shop where the suspect is not in physical control of her to tell a customer she needs help. During this exchange, the suspect grabs her and physically removes her from Starbucks. He forces her into the vehicle while she is actively resisting. A witness attempts to follow the vehicle but gives up when the suspect runs a red light.
The witness sees the victim throw her registration out of the vehicle. Goodyear Police Officers immediately respond and notify the Sheriff’s Office of the sighting of the victim and suspect.
The suspect continues to drive Paris’ vehicle and on September 3, 2017, they eventually stop at the Grand Canyon Inn in Valle, Arizona. The suspect does not let the victim leave the room and keeps physical control of the victim.
At checkout on Monday, September 4, 2017, the victim had a moment where she was not physically close to the suspect. She uses the opportunity to tell the clerk that she is a kidnapping victim. She requests the clerk to call law enforcement and reveals that they may be headed to Las Vegas.
They make their way to the Las Vegas area. On Monday evening, September 4, 2017, he agrees to allow the victim to use a cell phone and call her children. Paris places two calls to a family member and indicates that she is in the Henderson area.
The family member immediately calls the Sheriff’s Office. The victim is able to gain the suspect’s confidence that she will not try to escape and will rent a hotel room for the night. While the suspect is parking the vehicle, Paris walks into the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino and immediately notifies hotel staff that she is a kidnapping victim and needs help.
Casino security take the victim to a safe location. Henderson Police Officers respond but the suspect has already fled the area. At approximately 2:30 a.m. on September 5, 2017, Paris’ black Chrysler sedan, is located in a residential area in Mesquite, Nevada.
Late yesterday afternoon, Sheriff’s detectives received information that Hetzel had returned to the greater Las Vegas/Henderson area. Investigators continued to follow up leads which led them to Dotty’s Lounge located in the 100 block of E. Bruner in Las Vegas.
The Henderson Police Department working with Sheriff’s detectives, located a stolen vehicle taken from Mesquite in the parking lot. Henderson Police Officers located Hetzel inside just before 6 p.m. and took him into custody without incident.
In the attached video, you'll see surveillance video, that Las Vegas police say shows 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel of Lompoc, forcing 55-year-old Virginia Paris, also of Lompoc - to marry him at The Little Neon Chapel in Las Vegas.
"They came in like regular customers, like nothing, asked what's your cheapest package, ok 45 bucks," an employee at The Little Neon Chapel said.
45 bucks and the two were married but not before some odd behavior - just as their marriage license was going to be signed.
"I touched it like that and she was like no I don't want to do this.. and he was like no don't do this to me and he grabbed all the papers and I was like you guys better sit outside and talk," the employee said.