Santa Ana man shares terrifying experience of being kidnapped from his home

A longtime Santa Ana resident didn’t want his name or face revealed, but he was willing to talk about his wild and scary night on June 9th.

The 82-year-old was getting ready for a Zoom call with the other elders of his Costa Mesa church.  He walked out of his study when he saw a 50-year-old man, who had been throwing various items into a bag.

The man said, the intruder told him, “’Shut up and listen.’ He spent some time telling me, he knew I was a man of God. He told me he would not harm me, but if I didn’t do what he told me to do, he would harm my family.”

He spoke to FOX 11 a week after the ordeal. Tears welled in his eyes as he recalled his encounter with the suspect. The man said, he was shoved to the ground and choked. The suspect took his watch and a ring off his right hand, but then, “I told him that he wasn’t going to take my wedding band, unless he took it off my dead body.  His reply was, we’ll wait for that later.”  

At this point, the man was worried about his wife, who was still in the house, but scheduled to leave soon to have dinner with their son.  

The suspect took the man’s wallets and checked for ATM cards and supposedly asked how much he could withdraw from the bank. That’s when the suspect got into the victim’s car and the two set off on what must have felt like an unending odyssey around Santa Ana.

The two first stopped to withdraw money from the bank, the suspect then stopped at a gas station to gas up and buy a 12 pack of beer. To do that, the suspect needed the man’s credit card and here’s where the victim’s tech savviness comes through.  

The man picked the one credit card that would send a charge alert to his wife’s phone. She and their son were having dinner together when the uncharacteristic charges showed up. The son, who also didn’t want to be identified, started to track his dad’s phone and, at first, thought just the credit card and the phone were stolen. He called police, but kept tracking the charges and the phone’s location.

His father did another smart thing to try to end this ordeal.  He and his captor went to a retailer, where the suspect enjoyed some shopping. The older man stood next to the security guard, and when the opportunity arose, he whispered, “I’m being held up… call the police.  He moved over to the counter, don’t know what he did... but after I had paid for the clothing, he (the security guard)  winked at me on the way out the door which to me said, he understood what I said.”

 Sergio Magana Arechiga

In all, the suspect drove the man to seven or eight different locations, including two motels. He thinks, the bad guy wanted to keep shopping, but by now the stores were closed.  The last stop was a parking lot of a nondescript strip mall. The suspect got out of the car and his victim said, he just stared straight ahead, not wanting to know what else the suspect was up to. That’s where the son picks up the story. He’d been tracking his dad’s phone and the locator brought him to a parking lot across the street from where the suspect had gone shopping. 

The son spotted his father’s parked car. He pulled up behind it and tried to figure out what was happening. He could see someone in the passenger seat, but the driver’s seat was empty. Once he figure out it was his dad, he pulled up alongside him and opened the door. His dad doesn’t believe any words were exchanged, but he was emotional recounting that moment when the car door opened and he saw his son.

The two, now reunited waited for police and paramedics to arrive. The son never saw the suspect. But thanks to security video from the WSS, detectives were able to identify the suspect who had multiple prior offenses and sent out a BOLO. 

A few days later, Santa Ana police officers responded to a domestic dispute call, unrelated to the victim’s night of terror.  But at that location was 50-year-old Sergio Magana Arechiga. They recognized him and arrested him. He’s now charged with robbery and kidnapping.