VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A convicted kidnapper accused of trying grabbing a teenage girl at Vancouver Mall on Saturday remains in jail on a $500,000 bail.
Steven Hayes, 49, allegedly grabbed the girl outside a dressing room and tried to drag her away.
According to the police report, the victim told police Hayes put his hand over her face, pulled her close to his chest and told her if she screamed, he’d kill her.
The victim fought back and got away. As he fled, Hayes was caught by bystanders and held until police arrived.
Hayes has a prior conviction for kidnapping and now faces charges of kidnapping, assault and felony harassment.
He made his first court appearance Monday morning.
The victim was not physically hurt but her family told KOIN 6 News they are shaken up. Her dad, Jason England, also said his daughter is strong and wants some good to come from her attack.
“Despite this happening, the first thing she has pointed to is at the people who were involved in this that helped her,” England said. “And that we can make this a positive event by creating community awareness about this issue.”
England is frustrated that Hayes was allowed to be free given that he had previous convictions for similar crimes. He learned on Monday that Hayes had recently finished a 3.5-year sentence for trying to kidnap a 5-year-old girl in 2015 from a Vancouver Wallmart. Police said he picked her up and carried her out of the store until the girl screamed and he let her go. Back then, Hayes’ roommate, who didn’t want to be identified, recognized Hayes on the news.
“To hear the amount of priors this guy has had and he’s still out there — it’s very frustrating to me and I would definitely think the state needs to get more serious about crimes like this,” England said. “It’s terrifying. This is nothing I wish upon any parent to have to go through.”
Following the July 2015 attempted kidnapping, Hayes told a psychologist at the state mental hospital that he had schizophrenia and spent four months in a Texas mental institution more than a decade ago, and took a cocktail of psychiatric medications that were somewhat helpful in reducing his auditory hallucinations.
Separate from the 2015 charges he faced in Washington, Hayes has 11 other felony convictions, and 3 more probation violations. That list of offenses dates back to 1989 in Oregon, and also includes one conviction in Texas.
In that mental evaluation, he thought spiritual beings were trying to harm him. But a state psychologist believed his hallucinations did not impact his ability to understand the court case against him. Hayes was released from the Washington State Department of Corrections on February 15, 2019.
In this new case, Hayes’ attorney is seeking a mental health evaluation for his client before entering a plea. He will remain in custody.