California man arrested after alleged attempted kidnapping of Baxter girl
David LaVera, 33, of San Diego, the man arrested Tuesday afternoon who is facing multiple charges for allegedly luring a 14-year-old Baxter girl into his vehicle after claiming to be an actor from the popular “Twilight” franchise, was present in at least two Newton schools last week.
LaVera, who describes himself as an “extreme sports athlete/action actor” on his Twitter account, is reported to have been a guest speaker who also performed stunts at Aurora Heights Elementary School and Berg Middle School.
Krstyal Hughson commented on the Daily News’ Facebook page that her daughter, who attends Aurora Heights, came home with an autograph from LaVera.
Comments on Facebook also indicated LaVera was present at Maytag Pool last Tuesday when Berg eighth-grade students were at Maytag Pool for their end-of-the-year celebration.
With LaVera having access to so many of Newton’s children via the schools, a number of parents have expressed outrage and are demanding answers from the district. As of press time, Superintendent Bob Callaghan was at BMS conducting an investigation on the matter and plans to release a statement today.
The original incident that lead to LaVera’s arrest began when Jasper County dispatch was notified of an alleged kidnapping at 1:28 p.m. Tuesday. The reporting party, a relative of the girl, stated a man who claimed to be an actor in the “Twilight” film series and who reportedly had a prior online relationship with the victim had taken her.
According to a news release from the Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty and Baxter Police Chief Steve Wright, relatives and friends of the victim spotted LaVera’s vehicle in Baxter, told the driver to stop and yelled for the victim to get out of the car. She safely exited the vehicle, and LaVera left the scene.
Authorities determined the victim entered Lavera’s car willingly and located LaVera’s vehicle east of Baxter on Highway F17. He was taken into custody at 1:44 p.m. During his arrest, authorities found two swords and five dagger-like weapons within his reach in the vehicle.
“This gentleman had met her previously in Newton and had talked to her. He got on Facebook with her,” Wright told WHO-TV. “They were communicating on Facebook. And through that Facebook, he came up here to Baxter to meet with her,” Wright said. “This isn’t somebody that just wants to be friends. And typically this is the kind of person that meets a profile of somebody that can be a predator and can be dangerous.”
LaVera is currently in custody at the Jasper County Jail and is being charged with enticement of a minor, a Class D felony; carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor; and failure to have a valid driver’s license, a simple misdemeanor.
LaVera is no stranger to Jasper County and worked on the 2000 horror film “Underground” that was filmed primarily in Newton and used the former Maytag Plant 2 as a shot location. A trailer for the film can be found on YouTube.
Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.