Two men and a teenage boy were arrested early Monday on suspicion of kidnapping and beating up a 17-year-old boy who had exchanged inappropriate texts with one of their relatives, a 13-year-old girl, sheriff’s officials said.
“A neighbor reported seeing them catch him outside and punching him before throwing him into the van,” said Sgt. Lisa Bowman, spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
The actions were also observed by four young children who were in the van where the suspects allegedly threw the victim.
Anthony Rositani, 25, of Sacramento, was held on $1 million bond at the Sacramento County jail on suspicion of kidnapping, assault, conspiracy, child endangerment and violating probation.
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Hugo Tejerafraga, 18, of Carmichael, was held on $100,000 bond at the Sacramento County jail on suspicion of kidnapping, assault, and conspiracy.
A third suspect, a male from Carmichael under the age of 18, was also arrested. He also faces charges of kidnapping, assault and conspiracy.
The victim, who was not identified because he is a juvenile, was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.
The saga started before 9:38 p.m. Sunday , when one of the neighbors called 911 as he was driving in the 4600 block of Oxbow Drive.
“He thinks he’s witnessing a kidnapping in progress,” Bowman said. “He said he saw two guys running down the street, chasing another guy. He saw them grab the man they were chasing and put him in the van and took off.”
The caller apparently took it upon himself to follow the van and was able to get a license plate and a description of the vehicle – a white van – to dispatch.
But he stopped following when the van turned off all its lights when it approached the intersection of Mission Avenue and Cottage Way.
“He stopped following because it had become a dangerous situation,” Bowman said. “He lost sight of the vehicle and went home.”
In the meantime, sheriff’s deputies were en route to the last location of the van, at Mission Avenue and Cottage Way. When they arrived in the area, at 9:45 p.m., they saw a white van pull in front of a home in the 4700 block of Cottage Way.
When deputies ordered everyone inside the van to get out, they found the three suspects, the victim and four children.
The victim told investigators that he had known the 13-year-old girl who lived at the Cottage Way home for a couple of months, and they were only friends.
“He had a text conversation with her phone, and he agreed to come over,” Bowman said.
But when the 17-year-old boy arrived, three male family members of the girl reportedly came out of the house and chased him.
“At one point, the victim was hiding behind a bush and called 911 but dispatch couldn’t hear him because he was whispering,” Bowman said.
The three suspects eventually caught the victim, police believe.
It was not clear Tuesday whether the girl had sent the text message inviting the 17-year-old over, or if one of the male relatives had sent it to lure the victim to the house.
However, one thing appeared certain: “(The three suspects) had intercepted the text messages and knew he was coming over,” Bowman said. “It was what they saw in the text message that created this situation.”
It was not known where the parents of the girl were at the time of this incident, and it was not clear what the relationship was between the suspects and the girl, other than they were related.
Bowman said that Tejerafraga and the juvenile suspect also lived in the same house as the 13-year-old girl, as did the four children found in the back of the van. Although Child Protective Services was notified in the case, none of the children or the 13-year-old girl was placed with them.
A call to Rositani’s home was answered by his father, Richard, who said he did not know what happened.
Bowman said the incident might not have been discovered if the neighbor had not alerted authorities. “The biggest and best part of this is that a neighbor recognized that something shouldn’t be happening, got a license plate and told us what he saw – that was absolutely key (to having the suspects arrested).”