District Attorney - San Joaquin County

District Attorney

222 E. Weber Avenue
Second Floor, Room 202
Stockton, CA 95202
Phone: (209) 468-2400
Fax: (209) 465-0371

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San Joaquin County

April 28, 2020

CONTACT: Angela Hayes, PIO, Deputy District Attorney
T (209) 468-2400  | E angela.hayes@sjcda.org

Child Abductor Apprehended in Arizona

Messner Stockton - Today, District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar announced that Dustin Messner, age 37, was apprehended in Arizona after failing to return his eight year old son to his mother in Stockton, California, after a weekend visitation on Sunday, April 5, 2020.  

"A terrifying ordeal for mother and child has ended in reunification thanks to the outstanding efforts of Investigators Heather Gordon and David Sant of the San Joaquin County Bureau of Investigations Child Abduction Unit (CAT) and Deputy District Attorney David Silva," said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar.  "Their investigation led to the safe recovery of the young boy and the arrest of Dustin Messner by the United States Marshals Service in Flagstaff, Arizona."

According to official records, Mr. Messner fled to Arizona unlawfully with his 8 year old son after failing to return him to his mother after a weekend visitation.  He threatened to engage law enforcement if any attempts to recover the child were made pursuant to his social media accounts. The Marshals Service was able to swiftly and safely recover the child and apprehend Mr. Messner without incident.  Dustin Messner allegedly subscribes to sovereign citizen beliefs and did not believe the custody order applied to him. 

Mom and Son He remains in Mohave County Detention Center while he awaits extradition to San Joaquin County.  His next court date in Arizona is May 21, 2020.  He faces one count of Penal Code §278.5, Felony Child Custody Deprivation .

When the child was recovered, he excitedly asked the agents if they were there to save him.  CAT team investigators said he was overjoyed to be reunited with his mother, as was she.  It was an outstanding effort and incredible result for the District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation CAT unit in collaboration with the United States Marshall Service.

For more information about his case and the arrest, visit the U.S. Marshals website at:  https://www.usmarshals.gov/news/chron/2020/042320a.htm