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Tampa man accused of kidnapping Texas waitress

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2000

TAMPA -- A Tampa man has been charged with kidnapping his former girlfriend from her Texas town and bringing her to Tampa.

According to the FBI, 30-year-old waitress Laura Rodriguez Schmidt failed to show up Friday to work the second half of a split shift at a Red Lobster restaurant in the East Texas town of Lufkin.

Her husband, Ricky Schmidt, found her maroon Chevy pickup in the parking lot and called police. He suspected his wife's former boyfriend, 50-year-old Joseph Vincent Cannistra, whose arrest record includes charges of stalking, burglary, obstruction of justice, a weapons charge and a sex offense against a child.

On Monday, an FBI agent swore out an affidavit charging Cannistra with kidnapping.

Cannistra was arrested Tuesday evening at the parking lot of a Kmart near the Tampa dog track. Inside his turquoise Chevy Cavalier was Laura Schmidt, who was unharmed.

Cannistra had his first appearance Wednesday in front of a federal magistrate. He was ordered held without bail until a bail hearing Friday morning.

Motorcyclist dies in collision with truck

TAMPA -- A 38-year-old man was killed Wednesday morning after his motorcycle slid under a semitrailer truck pulling a double trailer that turned in front of him, police said.

Larry Gene Leblanc Jr. died at the scene at N 40th Street and Lake Avenue. He was southbound on N 40th Street when the northbound truck made a left turn into his path, police said.

Leblanc, of 3817 Lawanda Loop in Zephyrhills, braked, but lost control, hitting the truck and sliding under the tires.

The driver, Charles Herron Jr., 63, of Candler, N.C., was charged with violation of right of way.

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