Attempted kidnapping suspect found, arrested in Montana

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 5, 2013 

A Richland man suspected of trying to abduct a co-worker allegedly bought handcuffs and a stun gun online before attacking her outside her home this week.

Richland police detectives linked information about Wednesday's attempted kidnapping in the 1000 block of Potter Avenue with a missing person report filed by Aaron Michael Sparks' family to help them identify Sparks as the suspect.

Sparks, 33, of Richland, was arrested Thursday after he showed up at a hospital in Missoula for treatment of self-inflicted wounds to his neck and wrists, said Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb.

Sparks works at a Tri-City fast-food restaurant with the 31-year-old woman who was attacked outside her home just before 4:30 a.m.

Once he was identified as a suspect, the victim told authorities that Sparks had been making inappropriate sexual comments to her at work for the past three weeks, court documents said.

Sparks is being held by Missoula police on a $100,000 warrant from Benton County Superior Court, where he's charged with first-degree kidnapping and attempted first-degree rape.

Sparks is accused of forcing the victim into her car, threatening to sexually assault her and shocking her with the stun gun, documents said.

The victim was able to use the panic button on her car alarm to get the attention of her family, who ran outside. The victim's father also was shocked with the stun gun before Sparks ran off, documents said.

During the struggle with Sparks, the victim managed to pull off the ski mask and gloves he was wearing.

And while the suspect was not spotted getting into a vehicle, the victim's boyfriend told police that there was a red Toyota Echo parked in the area of the 1200 block of Perkins Avenue, where the suspect was last seen.

"Investigators started talking to the victim, but she's hesitant to identify anyone specific without being 100 percent certain," Cobb told the Herald. "But the more they talk, the more it's beginning to make sense that it is Sparks."

After Sparks' family reported him missing, officers learned that he drives a red Toyota Echo, which also was missing, Cobb said.

Information about Sparks was put into a national database, which led Missoula police to call Richland officers after they checked the database when he was at the hospital.

Richland police also got a warrant to search Sparks' home, which is where they found evidence linking him to the alleged attack, including a shipping box for a stun gun similar to the one described by the victim and a pair of handcuffs, authorities said.

Detectives also found a receipt in his home showing that he bought the same type of gloves that were found at the crime scene, Cobb said.

Sparks apparently tried to wash the clothes he was wearing at the time of the alleged abduction because the clothing described by the victim were the only pieces of clothing in his dryer, Cobb said.

A suicide note also was found, he said.

Missoula police seized Sparks' Toyota and were getting a warrant to search it, Cobb said. Richland officers are working with Benton County prosecutors to coordinate Sparks' return to the Tri-Cities, he said.

On Friday, KEPR TV mistakenly identified and posted a Facebook picture of a vice president at Washington Trust Bank in Kennewick who has the same first and last name, is the same age and lives in the same town as the suspect.

Aaron Robert Sparks, who has worked at Washington Trust Bank for almost 10 years, said he was shocked at how quickly the news spread and asked the Herald to make clear in today's story that he is not the suspect.

The bank received several calls from concerned customers about the TV report.

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