Man in underwear at Santa Rosa Target store sparks kidnapping, robbery investigation

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Two Stockton residents were in custody Tuesday, suspected of kidnapping, robbery and assault during a botched marijuana deal in Santa Rosa that left one man stripped to his underwear, yelling for help in a busy Santa Rosa shopping center.

The investigation started Sunday night when Santa Rosa police were dispatched at 7:35 p.m. to the Target store on Santa Rosa Avenue where a scantily clad man was shouting for people to call police.

When Santa Rosa police officers arrived, the man, a Roseville resident, told them he’d been kidnapped and forced to disrobe at gunpoint during a pot sale that fell apart when the would-be buyers stole the cannabis, Sgt. Josh Ludtke said Tuesday. The unidentified victim was believed to be brokering the pot deal.

Earlier Sunday, an undetermined number of people had met at a Taylor View Drive apartment complex in south Santa Rosa, before driving to Slater Street in central Santa Rosa to make the pot sale at an apartment complex there, Ludtke said.

While the unidentified would-be buyers were on their own examining a 5‑pound pot sample, they took off with it. As the broker, the victim had to relay the bad news to the two sellers who then pointed a gun at him. They forced him into the car and took him back to Taylor View Drive, Ludtke said.

There, “they told him to strip down and get into the trunk. He thought they were going to kill him,” Ludtke said. “In a moment of distraction, he ran for it.”

Not sure if he was being chased, he ran, cleared a fence and crossed an apartment complex where he jumped into a slow‑moving car. The man asked the startled occupants to take him somewhere with lots of people. They took him to the nearby Target on Santa Rosa Avenue and told him to get out of the car.

Santa Rosa detectives investigating developed a Stockton connection and a vehicle that possibly was connected to the case. On Monday, four detectives and a sergeant headed to the Central Valley city, honing in on a house where the two suspects where believed to be hiding.

When the couple left the house, Stockton police stopped their car and took Seth Willden, 38, and Misty Lovecchio, 39, into custody, Ludtke said. Detectives found a gun and marijuana in their home. The two were arrested on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, brandishing a gun and making threats.

Ludtke said Willden wielded the gun and Lovecchio drove and participated in the Santa Rosa crimes. The two remained in the San Joaquin County Jail on Tuesday, but were expected to be extradited to the Sonoma County Jail.

Detectives still are looking for others involved in the Santa Rosa marijuana deal that went awry and Ludtke asked anyone with information to contact police at 707‑543‑3590.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rossmannreport.

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