Convicted Sex Offender Kidnaps 9-year-old Mesa Girl

January 27, 2011

On January 26, 2011 at approximately 7:00 pm, Mesa Police officers responded to a possible kidnapping of a 9-year-old girl in the area of 1850 N. Stapley Drive. It was discovered that the 9-year-old victim and her 11-year-old friend (witness) were playing near the entrance of Stapley Greens community when they were contacted by the suspect driving a smaller, orange car. The suspect approached the girls from his car and asked the girls if they knew who owned a black puppy, which he had just found. The suspect told the girls he had the puppy tied up in the back of the community parking area. The two girls then followed the suspect's vehicle, which stopped a short distance away. While the girls were engaged in conversation with the suspect about the "puppy," the suspect was able to grab the 9-year-old victim and drag her into his car. The suspect then quickly drove away with the victim inside the vehicle.  The 11-year-old witness quickly rode her bike to the victim's home where the 911 call was made.

Jeffrey VanWagonerAt 7:12 pm, Mesa Police Communications received another 911 call from a resident in the area of 2200 E. Fairfield. The call explained that a 9-year-old girl had knocked on her door and asked to call her mother. The victim disclosed to investigators that as the suspect drove her away, she was screaming and kicking at the passenger car door. She told responding officers that the suspect had driven through residential neighborhoods and then released her near the home where she knocked on the door. The 9-year-old victim was not physically injured during this incident. Both girls were able to provide investigators with a very detailed description of the suspect and the suspect's vehicle.

At 7:40 pm, while searching for the suspect's vehicle, officers spotted an orange Chevy Cobalt in the area of 1600 E. Main Street. They conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and detained the driver. Both the victim and witness were able to positively identify the driver as the suspect in this case. The suspect was identified as Jeffrey M. VanWagoner (48), seen here in photo.

Investigators discovered that VanWagoner is currently a Level 2 registered sex offender from a prior conviction for child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor. When investigators attempted to interview VanWagoner, he invoked his right to an attorney. VanWagoner was booked for Kidnapping, ARS 13-1304.A4, a class 4 felony.

This incident was extremely frightening for the victim and her family. The Mesa Police Department would like to encourage parents to share this information with their children to reaffirm the "stranger danger" message. 



Mesa Police Department
Media Relations Office

PO Box 1466
Mesa, AZ 85211

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