$2M bail set for man accused of attempting to kidnap females

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VISTA, Calif. -- A man accused of trying to kidnap female pedestrians in Escondido, including girls as young as 11, pleaded not guilty Thursday to 16 felony charges, including multiple counts of contacting a minor with the intent to commit a kidnapping and attempted kidnapping.

Spicer Van Allen Conant, 46, was ordered held on $2 million bail.

Investigators from Escondido police executed a search warrant Wednesday at Conant's home. Authorities entered the San Marcos home around 3 p.m. looking for physical or digital evidence for their case.

FOX 5 obtained a copy of the order approving the search warrant. It details what investigators were looking for such as evidence of "child erotica" and signs Conant had enticed minors to engage in "sexually explicit activity." They were also looking for videos of "violent sexual acts against woman and children."

Conant was arrested during a traffic stop at West 13th Avenue and South Escondido Boulevard Tuesday morning, minutes after an 18-year-old woman agreed to get into his red 1994 Mazda Miata convertible, according to police.

In the trunk of the suspect's car, police found an assault rifle and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, Lt. Justin Murphy told reporters during a briefing.

While searching his house, investigators reportedly found 10 weapons, including handguns, a shotgun and semi-automatic assault rifles. They also took computers, a laptop and other items.

Beginning early last May, Conant -- a San Marcos resident -- allegedly 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 the 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 Tuesday morning, 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 alleged exhortations to get into his car, but the other consented. Officers promptly pulled Conant over and took him into custody.

A readiness conference was set for May 9 and a preliminary hearing for June 20.

Conant faces a maximum of 21 years and two months in state prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Garret Wong.