A suspect has pleaded not guilty against charges of attempting to kidnap a 16-year old Keppel student, police said Thursday.
22-year old Saul Villa Jr. was arrested on December 5 due to suspicion of attempted kidnapping and possession of a stolen vehicle. He was arraigned on December 9 at the Alhambra Superior Court. According to L.A County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson, Ricardo Santiago, Villa was charged with kidnapping, child abuse, and taking a vehicle without consent.
The alleged criminal incident occurred at approximately 7:05 a.m. on December 3, near the intersection of Orange and Hellman. Police stated that a man pulled his truck into a parking lot to block the girl’s path as she was walking to school and engaged in conversation with her.
According to Monterey Park Police Sergeant Rick Munder, the man exited his truck, grabbed her from behind, and attempted to force her into the vehicle. When the victim screamed, the man retreated into his truck and fled. The victim, who was shaken but otherwise unharmed, continued to the school campus, where she notified the staff.
“We are happy to report that the student is okay,” Principal John Scanlan said in a written statement to the school population.
Investigators released a surveillance camera image of the truck to encourage submission of relevant information. Police stated that the owner of the suspect’s truck contacted them after reading about the failed kidnapping and recognizing his vehicle, which was stolen early that morning. The vehicle was entered into the Statewide Stolen Vehicle System.
Around 3:00 p.m. on December 5, the Baldwin Park Police Department located the stolen truck in the 4700s block of Kenmore Ave of Baldwin Park. The truck’s occupants, Villa and a female passenger, were both detained by the Baldwin Park police, who contacted the Monterey Park Police Department. Further investigation by the MPPD identified Villa as the outstanding suspect of the attempted abduction case. The female was released when police determined that she was not involved in the attempted abduction.
Villa is next due in court on December 29. He remains in custody.
Police are searching for other possible victims. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Monterey Park Police Department at (626)-573-1311.