UPDATE: ANZA: Man reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint over marijuana plants found safe

UPDATE: Tuesday, Aug. 8, 6:30 p.m.

ANZA — A 28-year-old Anza resident who had been reported as kidnapped at gunpoint during a theft of marijuana plants has been found “safely and unharmed,” Sheriff’s officials say.

“Our missing Anza resident, Spencer Hayes, has been located,” Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant James Burton explained in a follow-up to an earlier press release.

Officials initially responded to the reported kidnapping shortly before 9:30 a.m., after they were notified about an incident that happened more than six hours earlier.

According to officials, Hayes was confronted by three Hispanic men and a Caucasian woman; two of whom allegedly brandished handguns at the victim. The four alleged suspects reportedly demanded Hayes cut down and give them an unspecified number of marijuana plants that the victim had been cultivating at the residence.

Although officials say Hayes has been located, they did not provide an update regarding the status of the kidnapping investigation or if the kidnapping was unfounded.

No further information or updates were available.


ORIGINAL STORY: Man reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint over marijuana plants

ANZA — Authorities say they are conducting a kidnapping investigation after a group of men and a woman – two of whom were allegedly armed with handguns – reportedly kidnapped an Anza resident. The early morning incident happened Monday, Aug. 7, at a private residence in the 51000 block of Deer Springs Trail in the unincorporated community of Anza.

The victim has been identified as Spencer Hayes, 28, of Anza. He was last seen shortly after 3 a.m., when a witness says he was forced at gunpoint into a vehicle with the four alleged suspects. 

Deputies assigned to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Hemet Station responded to the home at 9:17 a.m., after receiving reports of a possible kidnapping from the residence, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant James Burton explained in a written press release.

During their investigation, deputies learned that three, unidentified, Hispanic men and an unidentified White female arrived at the residence about 3 a.m. and confronted Hayes.

Two of the suspects allegedly brandished handguns and had Hayes cut down and give them marijuana plants that he had been cultivating at the location. The victim then left the residence with the suspects in their vehicle.

It was not immediately known if Hayes was forced to go with the four against his will or if he went with them willingly, causing officials to treat the incident as a possible abduction.

“At this time Hayes is considered to have been abducted against his will,” Burton explained.

Anyone with information regarding the incident or who knows Hayes’ whereabouts is encouraged to immediately contact Deputy Weber at the Hemet Sheriff’s Station at (951) 791-3400 or the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center (800) 950-2444. Callers can refer to incident file number D172190027 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 13 – soon to be 14 – grandchildren.


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