Update, September 5: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to report that 55-year-old Virginia Paris of Lompoc is safe with family and law enforcement in Nevada. Just before 9:00 p.m. last night, September 4, 2017, Paris placed two calls to a family member. The first call was short and indicated that she was coming home. The second call was her calling for help and providing information that she was in the Henderson, Nevada area. The family member called to notify the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement agencies began coordinating search efforts.
At approximately 11:00 p.m. last night, kidnapping suspect, 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel of Lompoc, dropped Paris off in front of the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nevada and drove away. Paris summoned for help and casino staff contacted the Henderson Police Department. When officers arrived, Paris told them that Hetzel may be on his way to Utah. Henderson Police Officers took Paris to a local hospital where she was treated, medically cleared and reunited with family in Nevada.
The Sheriff’s Office worked closely with local authorities and at approximately 2:30 a.m. this morning, Mesquite Police Officers located Paris’ vehicle, a 2015 black Chrysler 200 abandoned in the 300 block of Emmarene Street in Mesquite, Nevada. Hetzel is still at large and there is a warrant out for his arrest.
Sheriff’s detectives are in route to Nevada to meet with Paris and to provide services. Detectives will also be conducting follow up investigation and will assist in the search to find Hetzel. The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the Mesquite Police Department, authorities in Nevada and Arizona as well as the FBI.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to caution members of the public that if they see Hetzel to not approach him but to call 911 immediately. The Sheriff’s Office requests privacy for the victim as she recovers emotionally and physically from a traumatic experience. We appreciate the outpouring of support and well wishes from residents in Santa Barbara County, California, Arizona and Nevada. We are grateful that Virginia Paris is safe and resting with her family.
September 3, 2017: Kidnapping Victim and Suspect Sighting in Goodyear, Arizona
At approximately 7:15 a.m. this morning, September 3, 2017, kidnapping victim, Virginia Paris and kidnapping suspect, Joseph Hetzel, were seen at a Starbucks located in the 1300 block of N. Litchfield Road in Goodyear, Arizona. When Paris ordered her coffee drink, she gave the name Virginia. She then went to the bathroom and when she came out, she told a female customer in the coffee shop that she needed help. Hetzel saw this interaction, grabbed her and dragged her out of the shop. He then kicked her into a vehicle and drove off at a high rate of speed. As the vehicle drove off, Paris threw her car registration out of the door and it was recovered by Goodyear Police Officers. The vehicle being used is still Paris’ black 2015 Chrysler 200 with a CA License number of 7NGE514. The vehicle was last seen entering the I-10 Freeway eastbound towards Phoenix.
The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the Goodyear Police Department and other Arizona authorities to locate and find Paris and Hetzel. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). A description of the vehicle and the photos of both Paris and Hetzel have been sent to Arizona law enforcement and to the local media.
The Sheriff’s Office is deeply concerned for Paris’ safety and has a large amount of resources dedicated to this case. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Virginia Paris or Joseph Hetzel should call 911. To leave an anonymous tip, please call the Sheriff’s Anonymous Tip-Line at 805-681-4171 or go to http://www.sbsheriff.org/anonymoustips.html. If you see Hetzel, do not approach him but call 911 immediately.
Virginia Paris alleged victim, and suspect Joseph Hetzel
September 4, 2017:
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has learned that kidnapping suspect Joseph Hetzel and kidnapping victim Virginia Paris are possibly headed to the Las Vegas area. At approximately 7:30 a.m. this morning, September 4, 2017, the two checked out of the Grand Canyon Inn in Valle, Arizona where they had spent the night. The Sheriff’s Office is releasing surveillance photos from the hotel that show Hetzel and Paris during the checkout process. Information gathered at that time, indicates that Paris continues to be held against her will and that the two were possibly on their way to Las Vegas, Nevada. They are still believed to be driving in Paris’ black 2015 Chrysler 200 with a CA License number of 7NGE514.
The Sheriff’s Office is working closely with the FBI and law enforcement in Nevada and Arizona to locate Paris and Hetzel. Be on the lookout alerts have been sent to all of the law enforcement agencies in both states as well as California. The Sheriff’s Office is requesting members of the public to call 911 immediately if you see Hetzel, Paris or her vehicle. For anonymous tips, please call the Sheriff’s Anonymous Tip-Line at 805-681-4171 or go to http://www.sbsheriff.org/anonymoustips.html. Hetzel is considered dangerous and may be armed. If you see Hetzel, do not approach him, but call 911.
The investigation began at approximately 7:30 p.m. on September 1, 2017 when Sheriff’s deputies learned that 55-year-old Virginia Paris had been kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend, 52-year-old Joseph Hetzel shortly after she left work in the City of Solvang. She had recently sought a restraining order against Hetzel who has served time for crimes related to a domestic incident.