ESCONDIDO – A San Marcos man who tried to lure underage girls into his car in Escondido, and succeeded in getting a young woman to get into his vehicle, pleaded guilty today to felony charges of kidnapping, contact with a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense and unlawful possession of an assault rifle.
Conant was arrested during a traffic stop at West 13th Avenue and South Escondido Boulevard the morning of March 21, minutes after an 18-year-old woman agreed to get into his red 1994 Mazda Miata convertible. In the trunk of the suspect’s car, police found an assault rifle and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, Lt. Justin Murphy said.
Beginning in May 2016, Conant drove up alongside girls and women on various Escondido roadways, asked them for directions to nearby streets or freeways and then urged them to get into his car, Murphy said.
Following the first several suspected abduction attempts, which involved girls ages 15 and 16, police identified Conant as the suspected perpetrator via a cellphone photo taken by a witness, Murphy said.
Though they ultimately decided that no crimes had occurred during those incidents, detectives interviewed Conant and put out a public bulletin seeking other potential victims. None came forward, and the case was closed, the lieutenant said.
On March 15, a man matching Conant’s description and driving a red older- model Mazda Miata approached a 27-year-old woman and asked her for directions, according to Murphy.
After she complied with his request, the driver began insisting that she get into his vehicle to show him the way. Growing suspicious, the woman took a photo of him with her cellphone, at which point he drove off.
Due to the clear similarities with the earlier suspected abduction attempts, detectives put Conant under surveillance, Murphy said.
About 6:30 a.m. on March 21, Conant left his home, drove into Escondido and approached five female pedestrians — four of them minors — over a period of about 90 minutes, the lieutenant said. The first four declined his exhortations to get into his car, but when the fifth pedestrian consented, officers promptly pulled Conant over and took him into custody, Murphy said.