Affidavit released in Hillside Park kidnapping

Leonel Choice Jr.

An arrest warrant affidavit released Tuesday reveals that the vicitm of a suspected kidnapping at Hillside Park on Feb. 29 was aided by witnesses who saw the incident.

A woman was walking home from a medical appointment at about 1 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 29, when she noticed a man following her, according to the affidavit.

The suspect has been identified as Lennel Choice Jr., 42, of Tyler. The victim said Choice stopped her near Bonner Elementary, asking for a light for his cigarette.

The victim said she told Choice she did not have a lighter and kept walking. She then noticed Choice following her, according to the affidavit.

When she reached the intersection of East Elm Street and South Fleishel Avenue near Hillside Park, an acquaintance stopped to check on her. She told him about the man following her, but she refused a ride home from the acquaintance.

The victim stated she was nervous and continued to the park. When she entered the park, Choice grabbed her by the waist from behind and covered the the woman's mouth, attempting to drag her toward the creek at the center of the park, according to teh victim's statement. The victim said she thought the suspect was turning to remove his pants and also kept pulling at her pants, according to the affidavit.

As he tried to drag her past the baseball fields, the victim yelled for help. Three witnesses in the park heard her yelling and came to her aid, as well as the acquaintance she had seen outside the park. The suspect then fled into nearby woods, according to the affidavit.

When Tyler Police responded, an officer spotted a man matching the suspect's description near the woods and pursued him. The officer found marijuana on Choice and arrested him. The detective also requested a warrant for kidnapping.

Choice also was charged with evading arrest. He is being held in the Smith County Jail on bonds totaling $251,000.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory




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Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.