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Woman, 19, Kidnaped and Freed Unhurt

December 29, 1987|LONN JOHNSTON | Times Staff Writer

A pleasant Sunday night date at the movies turned into a nightmare for 19-year-old Laura Watts when three men kidnaped her at gunpoint while her boyfriend lay helpless on the snack bar floor.

Watts, who said the kidnapers took her to Los Angeles, was held prisoner in a van with a bag over her head. She was released unharmed early Monday in the Dominguez Hills area of Carson, police said.

"I'm fine; nothing happened to me," a shaken Watts said Monday evening from her home after a lengthy interview by Westminster police who were investigating the bizarre armed robbery and kidnaping.

"I'm just thankful she's OK," said Watts' mother, Pat. "I was so worried. I'm really proud of her. She kept her cool the whole time."

It started with a simple date at a Westminster drive-in theater.

Watts and her boyfriend, Ron Collins, had gone to see the film "Three Men and a Baby" and were standing in line at the snack bar of the Pacific's Hi-Way 39 Drive-In when the robbers entered shortly before 10 p.m. The armed trio ordered the young couple and eight other patrons to lie on the floor, police said.

The men then emptied the snack bar safe of $435 in cash before taking an undetermined amount of jewelry, money and other belongings from the 10 customers.

One Refused to Go

At this point, another woman patron was slapped and pushed around by the robbers when she refused to leave with them, police said. One of the robbers then turned his gun on Watts and ordered her into a van parked outside the snack bar. No one else was hurt, police said.

Several hours later, Watts' father, Laverne, 47, was informed by Westminster police that his daughter had been kidnaped by armed men.

As police talked to him, Laverne Watts' call waiting service kept the telephone line clicking. Attempting to contact him was his daughter, just freed by the kidnapers.

"As soon as I hung up, there was my daughter," the relieved father said. "I was scared. You don't know what people pull when they kidnap somebody."

According to police, Laura Watts, her head covered with a pillowcase and coat, was taken in the kidnapers' getaway van to a house in Carson near the Harbor Freeway. At about 1 a.m., the men released her unharmed in the Dominguez Hills area.

According to her father, the first thing Laura Watts did was walk to a nearby hospital and call home. Her boyfriend said he didn't call earlier because he was afraid and didn't know what had happened, Laverne Watts said.

Laura Watts, who works part time for a parcel-delivery service in Orange County, spent most of Monday sleeping, her parents said.

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