By Raiza Giorgi

A Buellton man who allegedly tried to kidnap a toddler from a Buellton store in August pleaded not guilty on Sept. 11 in Santa Maria Superior Court.

William “Bill” Henderson, 56, is accused of kidnapping and child-endangerment after he allegedly tried to abduct a toddler from the Albertson’s grocery store on Aug. 7.

Henderson allegedly removed the 2-year-old from a shopping cart and started walking toward the exit, said Lt. Eric Raney, public information officer of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

“The parent of the 2-year-old child stopped the suspect, and the suspect released the child before leaving the store,” Raney added. “The 2-year-old child and parent were clearly distraught over the incident.”

He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor child endangerment, with bail set at $100,000. He is set to return to court on Oct. 24 before Judge John McGregor, according to court records.

Raney said sheriff’s deputies recognized Henderson when they saw him on the store’s surveillance video and waited for the proper investigative process to take place before they arrested him. They kept track of him until they could make the arrest, and they didn’t notify the community during that time because they didn’t believe the public was in immediate danger, Raney added. 

Henderson has a prior misdemeanor conviction for indecent exposure at Flying Flags RV Resort in Buellton in December of 2018. 

According to Superior Court records, Henderson was convicted in April of this year for soliciting a lewd act in December 2018, when he removed his shorts and got into a hot tub at Flying Flags in front of children and adults. 

“There were multiple witnesses that saw Mr. Henderson take his shorts off and there were children present, which concerned the parents that were there. One of the victims signed a citizen’s arrest and Mr. Henderson was arrested for indecent exposure,” Raney said.