Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 | 2:17 p.m.
A Henderson man who kidnapped a 7-year-old girl last March and forced a Las Vegas cab driver at knifepoint to drive them out of state pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal kidnapping, carjacking and child pornography charges, Nevada’s U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden announced.
In a news release, Bogden’s office said Matthew Charles Hayward, 29, faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines for kidnapping his cousin’s boyfriend’s daughter last year.
Federal authorities said Hayward took the girl from his cousin’s house in Henderson by telling her they were going to Walmart so her mother could pick her up. Hayward later gagged the girl with a bandana and drove until his car broke down on Interstate 95 near Tropicana Avenue.
Meanwhile, the girl’s father had reported her missing to the Henderson Police Department.
After Hayward’s car broke down, prosecutors say, he and the girl got into a cab at Whitney Ranch Drive and Russell Road. Hayward asked the driver to take them to an area near his car, then pulled out a knife and ordered the driver to take him to California. When they reached Barstow, Calif., Hayward told the driver and the girl to get out of the car, and he drove away. The cab was found unoccupied later that day in Barstow.
Police arrested Hayward on unrelated charges a day later near Flagstaff, Ariz. Authorities said they found a pornographic photo on Hayward’s cellphone in a backpack he dropped while fleeing from police.
The Henderson Police Department and Southern Nevada Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigated the kidnapping.
Hayward’s sentencing is scheduled for June 1.