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Man pleads guilty in kidnapping of Mesa girl

PHOENIX — A convicted child molester accused of briefly kidnapping a young
Mesa girl last year has pleaded guilty in the case.

Maricopa County prosecutors said Jeffrey Mark VanWagoner, 49, pleaded
guilty Thursday to attempted kidnapping and attempted sexual conduct with a
minor. A sentencing date hasn’t been set yet.

VanWagoner was arrested in January 2011 after allegedly grabbing a 9-year-old
girl, dragging her into his vehicle and driving away.

The girl’s 11-year-old friend witnessed the abduction and gave Mesa police a
description of the kidnapper and the car.

The abducted girl was later released unharmed. Police later
located and arrested VanWagoner.

Police said VanWagoner is a Level 2 sex offender from a prior conviction for
child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor.