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Press Release

Ford County Man Sentenced to Twelve Years in Prison for Attempted Kidnapping

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

URBANA, Ill. – A Roberts, Illinois, man, Paul Theesfield, 38, of the 200 block of Maple Avenue, was sentenced on December 2, 2022, to twelve years of imprisonment for attempted kidnapping.

On July 6, 2022, Theesfield pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long to attempting to kidnap a woman in Gibson City, Illinois, on December 5, 2020. Around 2:30 p.m. that day, Theesfield drove his red SUV past the woman multiple times while she was walking near Wood Street and 12th Street. Theesfield then used the SUV to strike the woman from behind in an attempt to incapacitate her, put her in his SUV, and drive her out of town to sexually assault her. After striking her, Theesfield got out of the SUV and approached the woman, who recognized him and screamed. Theesfield then fled the scene and returned to his Roberts residence, where he and his red SUV were later found by a Ford County Deputy. After initially telling authorities he accidentally struck the woman, Theesfield admitted his kidnapping plan and was arrested. The Ford County Sheriff later seized handcuffs, wire rope chokers, zip ties, duct tape, an electric cattle prod, and other items from the Roberts Water House, where Theesfield was employed.

At the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that Theesfield committed a similar uncharged attempted kidnapping on September 25, 2009, in Champaign, Illinois. On that date, Theesfield struck a woman, who was walking in Champaign, with a vehicle and physically attacked her while trying to tie her up with a strap. The victim screamed and kicked him and eventually got free. Theesfield drove off and was not identified until the victim identified him after he was arrested for the 2020 incident. Each of Theesfield’s victims presented written statements during the sentencing hearing detailing the trauma caused by Theesfield’s conduct.

U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce rejected Theesfield’s request for a sentence of five years of imprisonment and imposed the government’s requested sentence of twelve years of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. In doing so, Judge Bruce agreed with the government’s argument that a lengthy sentence was necessary to protect the public from further crimes by Theesfield. The statutory penalty for attempted kidnapping is up to twenty years of imprisonment and three years of supervised release.

The case investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Field Office; Ford County Sheriff’s Office; and Gibson City Police Department. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller represented the government in the prosecution.

Updated December 6, 2022