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Tampa man kidnapped ex-girlfriend, FBI says

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 and a sex offense against a child.

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 bond until a bail hearing Friday morning.

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