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MailTribune.com
  • Grand jury drops kidnap charge in Medford case

  • AMedford man arrested for allegedly trying to snatch a 5-year-old boy from his mother in west Medford last week will not face kidnapping charges.
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  • AMedford man arrested for allegedly trying to snatch a 5-year-old boy from his mother in west Medford last week will not face kidnapping charges.
    Robert Vincent Jones, 47, will be arraigned this afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court on a single charge of harassment, said county prosecutor Adam Peterson.
    If convicted of the harassment charge, a Class B misdemeanor, Jones could face a maximum sentence of six months in jail, Peterson said. (Correction: The classification of the crime has been corrected in this article.)
    Jones was arrested on June 10 after a woman reported Jones had grabbed her 5-year-old son while they were walking near the intersection of Monroe Avenue and Grape Street. Police said Jones tried to pull the boy into an orange Ford Mustang. Jones has been held in the Jackson County Jail on $250,000 bail since the incident.
    A grand jury last Thursday declined to indict Jones on the kidnapping charge after hearing testimony from the police detective on the case and the mother of the boy, Peterson said.
    "The grand jury deliberates in private," he said. "I have no idea how they came to their decision."
    Police said Jones allegedly stopped his vehicle in the street and offered the victims a Bible and a sip from his drink. Then he grabbed the child and told the mother he was going to take him, police said. The mother intervened, and the pair escaped to her nearby car. Jones fled the scene as the mother called police from her cellphone, said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.
    "We certainly don't agree with the grand jury's findings," Budreau said, adding he commended the mother for intervening and calling police.
    "(Jones') behavior was very concerning," Budreau said.
    Family members have stated that Jones has had a long struggle with mental illness. Jones' sister, Lori Scearcy, said Jones suffered a serious head injury in 1996 and also has bipolar disorder.
    "When his medicines are right, he's a great guy," Scearcy said. "He would never hurt someone else. He's at risk for hurting himself."
    Jones moved back to Medford from Bend in recent months, Scearcy said. He has suffered three heart attacks, the most recent occurring the night before the alleged incident, she said. Doctors switched Jones' medications, a change that may have precipitated the decline in her brother's mental stability, Scearcy said.
    Scearcy said Jones denies grabbing the child.
    "He's not the kind of guy to be hurting anybody," she said.
    Budreau said Medford police crossed paths with Jones on May 31 when police were called to an apartment on Crater Lake Avenue. Jones had locked himself in a bathroom and had made suicidal threats. Officers took him to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center's psychiatric unit for assessment, Budreau said.
    Jones was subsequently arrested that day on a charge of second-degree criminal trespass. Lodged in Jackson County jail at 4:46 a.m., Jones was released seven hours later due to overcrowding, Budreau said.
    Jones was again jailed on June 1 at 12:01 a.m. on a charge of improper use of 911. He was released at 9:20 a.m., Budreau said.
    After seeing news reports about Jones, Renee Valdez contacted the Mail Tribune and said she believed her 16-year-old daughter had been stalked the previous Sunday by Jones while walking on Biddle Road.
    Her daughter was headed to visit Valdez at work when Jones allegedly cut her off with his Mustang in the Toys R Us parking lot. The teen dashed into a sandwich shop to get away, but Jones continued to circle the area in his vehicle, she said.
    Valdez said a couple of good Samaritans in the restaurant witnessed the incident and gave her daughter a ride.
    Budreau verified that two calls came in that Sunday regarding an incident such as the one Valdez described. A Medford officer was dispatched but was unable to locate a vehicle matching the description, he said.
    Budreau said police investigation did not turn up enough evidence to arrest Jones in that incident.
    "Basically, all we could prove is that he followed her and tried to engage her in conversation," said Budreau, who commending the girl for her quick thinking after being approached by a stranger.
    "She ran to safety," he said.
    Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or sspecht@mailtribune.com.
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