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Man, 49, in court on Vancouver Mall kidnapping allegations

A man who is accused of trying to kidnap a 14-year-old girl Saturday from Vancouver Mall, but was stopped by shoppers, told police “he did not remember anything at the mall,“ court records show.

Steven W. Hayes, 49, previously told officers the same thing when he snatched a 5-year-old girl from a Vancouver Walmart in 2015, according to Columbian archives. He stated he couldn’t remember being at the store nor could he remember any encounters with a child. In that case, bystanders also intervened.

In this latest incident, Hayes appeared Monday morning in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree assault and felony harassment.

Judge Jennifer Snider set bail in Hayes’ case at $500,000, half the amount the prosecutor requested.

A court-appointed defense attorney held off on arguing for a lower bail amount, telling the judge he needed time to learn the details of the case. He added that Hayes may suffer from mental health issues and appears to be confused about what happened.

On Hayes’ jail booking sheet, officers wrote “paranoid, dementia” under the category for observable mental health problems. A competency review hearing is likely in the case. The booking sheet did not list an address for Hayes.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor James Smith said Hayes has convictions in Washington, Oregon and Texas. He called Hayes a danger to the community.

Hayes was previously arrested in July 2015 in the attempted kidnapping at the Walmart located at 221 N.E. 104th Ave. He was ordered to spend 42 months in prison after undergoing competency proceedings and pleading guilty that October.

The attempted kidnapping at the mall was reported at 4:54 p.m. Saturday. Hayes approached and grabbed the teenager inside American Eagle on the ground floor of the mall, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The teen fought back, police said, and other shoppers chased Hayes and held him until officers arrived.

Mall security had Hayes detained when officers got there. The officers went to American Eagle and met the girl, who was shaking and appeared to be in shock, the affidavit says.

She told police she was outside the dressing rooms, waiting for two friends, when a man approached her and asked if she was OK. She said she was fine and tried to back away from him, but he lunged and grabbed her. He placed one hand on the back of her neck and his other hand over her mouth, according to the affidavit. The girl had trouble breathing, she told police, because the man was pinching her nose.

“The male then pulled (the girl) into his chest holding her close (and) told her ‘If you move, I will (expletive) kill you,’” the affidavit says.

Hayes began to drag the teenager from the store, but she pried his hand from her mouth and yelled for help. Her pleas caught the attention of other shoppers, and some Samaritans grabbed Hayes as he tried to run away, the court document states.

Patricia Koitzsch-Gonzalez, who was shopping in the store with her daughter, told police she noticed Hayes watching the girl and her two friends as they entered the store. He then inconspicuously followed them around, according to the affidavit. Koitzsch-Gonzalez intervened when Hayes grabbed the girl.

The victim, Koitzsch-Gonzalez and the woman’s daughter said they were 100 percent sure Hayes was the man who committed the attempted kidnapping, court records say.

After Hayes’ court hearing Monday, the victim’s father, Jason England, said his daughter is doing well. He commended her bravery and said she’d like to use the incident to raise awareness about “stranger danger.”

England said he would ride his bicycle to the mall when he was a kid and is concerned his daughter and her friends can no longer do the same, without worrying about something bad happening.

“This is terrifying. I wouldn’t wish it upon any parent,” England said.

He was more upset about the attempted kidnapping, he said, after hearing about Hayes’ criminal history.


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