A clearly deranged man, who kidnapped his girlfriend and took her on a terrifying cross-country excursion, is still on the loose say authorities.
According to multiple news reports, Joseph Hetzel, 52, is on the loose, and he is armed and dangerous.
He captured his 55-year-old ex-girlfriend, Virginia Paris, as she left her job at Solvang Lutheran Home, a retirement establishment, on Friday. Paris, who was seeking a restraining order against him, was forced into her own black 2015 Chrysler 200 in Solvang, California, and the two embarked on a trip across three states.
According to reports, Paris’s family and friends contacted police after Paris was taken. No one knew where the pair had gone until Sunday when they were reported to be in a small, Phoenix suburb in Arizona.
During a stop at a Starbucks in Goodyear, Arizona, which is 480 miles away from Solvang, witnesses reported that Paris attempted to get help. After ordering coffee, Paris gave staff her first name, then went to the bathroom. On her way back, she approached a female customer, telling her she needed help.
Hetzel reportedly witnessed the escape attempt and intervened. He dragged her out of the store, then “shoved her back into their car before she could be saved,” according to the Daily Mail.
Paris was able to leave police a clue, however, as she threw her license and registration information out of the window before they left the scene. Police did recover the documents.
The pair was seen again 200 miles north of Goodyear, in Williams, Arizona, checking out of the Grand Canyon Inn on Monday morning after spending at least one night there. According to reports, Hetzel gave his real name when they checked into the hotel.
Then, late Monday night, after a stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, Paris was able to get to security guards at the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nevada. Police initially took her to a hospital, but she has now been reunited with her family.
It is not clear how long the couple had previously been together, romantically, or what caused their break-up.
Hetzel, a golf course mechanic and father-of-three, was reportedly arrested in 2005 for plotting against another ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Plews, with explosives and paint bombs in Buellton, California. He was charged with possession of items used to make explosive devices, using explosive devices with intent to terrorize, and felony vandalism.
He was accused of poisoning Plews’ dogs, throwing paint-filled balloons at her home and office, throwing rocks at her house, and throwing rocks at her new boyfriend’s house. Apparently, the couple had a child together and the police said their dispute revolved around custody of the child.
Hetzel is still on the loose. The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office has issued a warning that Hetzel should not be approached, but that any sighting of the suspect should be reported immediately to police by calling 911, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office (805-681-4171), or by reporting the sighting at the website here.
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