Man accused of kidnapping his mother, 80, arrested after standoff with authorities in Bellflower

A kidnapping suspect who barricaded himself inside an apartment in Bellflower with his 80-year-old mother who authorities said was taken from a care facility in Nevada with the help of a former county sheriff in Nevada was taken into custody this morning.

Sheriff’s SWAT team members took the 52-year-old Roger Hillygus into custody about 2 a.m., after he fell asleep, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro- Suarez.

The suspect’s mother, Susan Hillygus, was not hurt, Navarro-Suarez said.

Deputies responded about 7:10 p.m. Thursday to a call for service in the 15300 block of Bellflower Boulevard, according to Sheriff’s Information Bureau. A SWAT team was also summoned to the location.

Roger Hillygus was suspected of kidnapping his mother from a care facility in Reno Aug. 8 with the help of a former sheriff of Mineral County, Nevada, according to the Reno Police Department. Mineral County is located about 150 miles southeast of Reno in a rural part of the state.

The former sheriff, identified as Stewart Handte, 59, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of kidnapping a victim over 60 years old and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, Reno police said.

Handte told police he had met Hillygus a few months ago and recently learned that Hillygus had lost a court battle with his sister over guardianship of his mother, KOLO-TV in Reno reported.

Authorities believe Hillygus and Handte went to the facility, provided false information to the staff and left with Susan Hillygus, who suffers from dementia and is in need of 24-hour professional health care and medication.

Handte also served as police chief for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony for seven months, a tenure that ended in July, the colony said in a statement.

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Melissa has been a journalist for over two decades, starting her career as a reporter covering health and religion and moving into local news. She has worked as an editor for eight years, including seven years at the Press Telegram before joining the Long Beach Post in June 2018. She also serves as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach where she teaches multimedia journalism and writing.
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