Local News

Feb 10, 2010 11:55 PM by Ariel Wesler

Neighbors say alleged kidnapper is innocent

An 82-year-old man is in custody tonight after police say he kidnapped a six-month-old child in Grover Beach.

Officers say Peter Hewitt of Arroyo Grande kidnapped the infant at about 9:30 last night in the Vons parking lot on West Grand Avenue.

Police say the man drove with the child to his home in Arroyo Grande, where the mother and her child had actually been living with Hewitt.

"I don't believe that. Peter would not. Peter has his own children and from what I understand, he's a very loving father," said Kathy, who lives next door to Hewitt.

Neighbors in this Arroyo Grande community say there must be some mistake. They believe 82-year-old Peter Hewitt was protecting, not kidnapping a six-month-old child, but Grover Beach Police say they had good reason to make an arrest.

"The child was in a car seat in the van. Mr. Hewitt forced the mother out of the van and then drove the van away from the parking lot. That constitutes a kidnapping by California statute," said Lt. John Peters with Grover Beach Police.

From the Von's parking lot, Hewitt then drove to his Arroyo Grande home, parked in the garage and locked himself inside the car. Officers forced their way in and after a short struggle, took the baby away from him.

"I heard a baby crying very loudly and I came out," said Lafon Kellerman of Arroyo Grande.

Neighbors say the two first met at the Nipomo Community Presbyterian Church. The young woman had a baby and no place to go.

"Peter opened his house for her, so this way she would have a roof over her head with the baby and take care of them," Kathy said.

"I was concerned for his welfare. I told him not to let her come in because I knew he was going to have problems from what he told me previously about her being irrational," Kellerman said.

Either way, Hewitt's future remains in the hands of the law.

Nobody was injured in the incident and the baby was returned to its mother.

Hewitt faces charges of kidnapping, child endangerment, and resisting arrest. Kidnapping and child endangerment are both felonies.

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