On the night of March 22, 1970, Kathleen Johns was driving from San Bernardino to Petaluma to visit her mother. She was seven months pregnant and had her 10-month-old daughter beside her. While heading west on Highway 132 near Modesto, a car behind her began honking its horn and flashing its headlights. She pulled off the road and stopped. The man in the car parked behind her, approached her car, stated that he observed that her right rear wheel was wobbling, and offered to tighten the lug nuts. After finishing his work, the man drove off; yet when Johns pulled forward to re-enter the highway the wheel almost immediately came off the car. The man returned, offering to drive her to the nearest gas station for help. She and her daughter climbed into his car. During the ride the car passed several service stations but the man did not stop. For about 90 minutes he drove back and forth around the backroads near Tracy. When Johns asked why he was not stopping, he would change the subject. When the driver finally stopped at an intersection, Johns jumped out with her daughter and hid in a field. The driver searched for her using his flashlight telling her that he would not hurt her, before eventually giving up. Unable to find her, he got back into the car and drove off. Johns hitched a ride to the police station in Patterson.
When Johns gave her statement to the sergeant on duty, she noticed the police composite sketch of Paul Stine's killer and recognized him as the man who abducted her and her child. Fearing he might come back and kill them all, the sergeant had Johns wait, in the dark, at the nearby Mil's Restaurant. When her car was found, it had been gutted and torched.
Most accounts claim he threatened to kill her and her daughter while driving them around, but at least one police report disputes that. Johns' account to Paul Avery of the Chronicle indicates her abductor left his car and searched for her in the dark with a flashlight; however, in one report she made to the police, she stated he did not leave the vehicle