Arrest made in Escondido teen predator case - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Arrest made in Escondido teen predator case

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ESCONDIDO (CBS 8/ CNS) - A 46-year-old man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of trying to kidnap female pedestrians -- including girls as young as 11 -- in Escondido since last spring.

Spicer Van Allen Conant of San Marcos was taken into custody during a traffic stop at West 13th Avenue and South Escondido Boulevard this morning, minutes after an 18-year-old woman agreed to get into his red 1994 Mazda Miata convertible, according to police.

In the trunk of the suspect's car, police found an AR-57 assault rifle and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, Lt. Justin Murphy said during a late-afternoon briefing.

Beginning early last May, Conant allegedly drove up alongside girls and women on various Escondido roadways, asked them for directions to nearby streets or freeways and then urged them to get into his car, Murphy said.

Following the first several suspected abduction attempts, which involved girls ages 15 and 16, police identified Conant as the suspected perpetrator via a cellphone photo taken by a witness, Murphy said.

"He is talking to minors. Why is he talking to minors? There is no need for a grown man to be talking to minors," said Escondido mother, Misti Eckburg. 

Though authorities ultimately decided that no crimes had occurred during the incidents, detectives interviewed Conant and put out a public bulletin seeking other potential victims. None came forward, and the case was closed, the lieutenant said.

"There was no crime as far as any type of touching, any type of sexual assault," said Lt. Murphy.

Last Wednesday, a man matching Conant's description and driving a red older-model Mazda Miata approached a 27-year-old woman and asked her for directions, according to Murphy.

After she complied with his request, the driver began insisting that she get into his vehicle to show him the way. Growing suspicious, the woman took a photo of him with her cellphone, at which point he drove off.

"I want to know what his intentions are and why he was still in the community," said North County resident Rafael Arce. 

Due to the clear similarities with the earlier suspected abduction attempts, detectives put Conant under surveillance, Murphy said.

About 6:30 Tuesday morning, Conant left his home, drove into Escondido and approached five female pedestrians -- four of them minors -- over a period of about 90 minutes, the lieutenant alleged.

The first four declined his alleged exhortations to get into his car, but the other consented. Officers promptly pulled Conant over and took him into custody.

Conant was questioned Tuesday afternoon and was being held in an isolation holding cell Wednesday with an arraignment scheduled for Thursday.

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