Abduction declared a hoax

The Associated Press
Friday June 29, 2001

PETALUMA — A 17-year-old boy who said a man abducted him at gunpoint and forced him to drive fours from the North Coast to the Central Valley early Monday now says the kidnapping was a hoax. 

Petaluma police cited and released the boy on a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report, Sgt. Ralph Evans said. The boy apologized, but was admitted Tuesday to a Santa Rosa mental health center for evaluation. 

He told police he was driving to his job as a sheet metal worker in Novato on Monday morning when a man approached his Ford truck, flashed a gun, got in and ordered him to drive to Interstate 5 near Fresno. 

The boy did indeed drive to the Central Valley town of Mendota, where he called his mother and said he had dropped the man off. But police investigators soon learned from a gas station clerk that they boy was alone. 

When police detectives questioned him Tuesday morning, the boy admitted the story was false. 

“He said he was under a lot of stress lately,” Evans said. 

Family members cited a grandfather who is terminally ill with a neurological disease. The boy has no criminal record. 

An adult could face up to a year in county jail for a false police report. In juvenile court, the boy might face probation, a recommendation for counseling — or, possibly, incarceration.