A Malibu man who was instrumental in the capture of a transient accused of kidnapping a teenager at a Pacific Coast Highway intersection said it was an obvious choice to try and help the girl.
"It was not a hard choice. It was pretty obvious," said Michael Miller, who has lived in Malibu for 50 years. "We’re all concerned that our children are safe."
Detectives have said Miller's quick actions led to the arrest of 28-year-old Alexis Fantauzzi, who is accused of kidnapping a 17-year-old girl on June 12 as she was waiting in her car at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Webb Way in Malibu.
Miller, 65, said he was picking up a freezer from the Arco gas station on Heathercliff Road and Pacific Coast Highway for his business, Hibiscus Real Shaved Ice, when he noticed a girl crying in the passenger side of an older-model gray SUV.
"She seemed to be crying," Miller said. "She was very upset about something. I saw her and I looked and she was with a guy. I figured maybe they had a fight or something."
Miller said that he went back to his business, but glanced back at the girl less than a minute later.
"She’s looking toward me and she seems almost hysterical," Miller said. "She’s pleading through the window of the car. She’s pleading ‘Please, help me. Help me. Help me, please,’ I was able to read by watching her lips move."
Miller walked up to the man—later identified as Alexis Fantauzzi—and confronted him.
"I asked the guy who was trying to put gas in the SUV, I asked ‘What is going on here?’” Miller said.
Fantauzzi did not respond and looked down at the ground, he said.
"I stood in front of the car and I said to him, 'Look, you might as well let this girl get out of the car and leave now. If you leave with her, I will have to call the police. One way or the other you’ve got to let this girl get out of the car,'" Miller said.
Again, the man did not answer Miller's questions.
"He just got in the car. I was in the front of it so he backed out. I went inside and called 911," Miller said, adding that he gave the dispatcher a description of the suspect, the car and the girl.
Miller said he got a call 15 minutes later from Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department detectives, who reported they arrested the man and rescued the girl.
"The sheriff’s are the ones who really need to get the kudos here," Miller said. "We’re very lucky to have those guys, for them to be so responsive and to immediately get people out there looking for her. I’m very grateful."
Fantauzzi is and is due in court on June 28.