Solvang kidnapping victim found safe in Nevada

Alleged kidnapper held on $1 million bail

Solvang kidnapping victim found safe...


Police say a woman reportedly kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend out of Solvang has been located in Nevada.

55-year-old Virginia Paris called a family member twice just before 9 p.m. Monday letting that family member know where she was and that she needed help, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

At about 11 p.m., the suspect, Joseph Hetzel, dropped Paris off in front of the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nevada, and drove away. Casino staff contacted Henderson police after Paris asked for help. She told police Hetzel may be on his way to Utah.

Paris received medical attention at a local hospital and was later reunited with family.

Paris was believed to be kidnapped from her job on Friday.  She had recently been spotted near Phoenix where Hetzel dragged Paris away after she tried to ask a customer at a coffee shop for help.

At about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Mesquite police located Paris' car abandoned in the 300 block of Emmarene Street in Mesquite, Nevada, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Detectives are still trying to figure out what motivated 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel to kidnap his ex-girlfriend, 55-year-old Virginia Paris and hold her against her will for nearly four days. 

Her daughter, Melissa Villalba said she could tell something was wrong with her mom when she called her on Friday.

"7:35 she called me very shaky in her voice..very upset. She was like, 'I love you, I miss you so much.' I was like, 'Are you ok?' and she hung up on me," Villalba said. 

"We're just taking a moment to just embrace and be happy with the fact that we have a victim who is home with her family and we just really were concerned for her well being," said Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say Hetzel has a history of violence against another ex-girlfriend and actually served time for that. 

Hetzel remains on the run, he is considered armed and dangerous. If anyone sees Hetzel, you are urged to not approach him and call 911 immediately.



Authorities believe that Solvang kidnapping suspect Joseph Hetzel, 52, and kidnapping victim Virginia Paris may be heading to Las Vegas, Nevada based on new surveillance evidence.

At about 7:30 a.m. Sept. 4, the two checked out of the Grand Canyon Inn in Valle, Arizona where the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said they spent the night. The Sheriff's Office released surveillance photos from hotel cameras that show Hetzel and Paris during checkout.

Authorities say information gathered in the investigation suggests that Paris continues to be held against her will. The two are still believed to be traveling in Paris' black 2016 Chrysler 200 with CA License number of 7NGE514.

Hetzel is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached by anyone. The Sheriff's Office asks that anyone who sees either individual or their car, call 911 immediately.


On Sept. 3, the two were spotted at a Starbucks located in the 1300 block of N. Litchfield Road in Goodyear, Arizona. Authorities said Paris ordered a coffee drink and gave the name Virginia.

She went to the bathroom before telling another customer that she needed help. When Hetzel saw this interaction, he grabbed Paris and dragged her out of the shop, kicked her into a car and drove off at a high rate of speed, said authorities.

Paris managed to throw her car registration out of the car door, which was discovered by Goodyear police.


The investigation began on Sept. 1 when Sheriff's deputies learned 55-year-old Paris had been kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, Hetzel, in Solvang soon after she left work.

Authorities said the two drove to Ventura County and were last known to be in the Camarillo area before being spotted in Arizona two days later.

Paris has recently sought a restraining order against Hetzel who has served time for crimes related to a domestic incident, according to the Sheriff's Office.

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