$2 million bail set for van suspect

A man suspected of attempting to initiate inappropriate contact with young girls at least three times in recent weeks expressed surprised outrage in Jackson County Circuit Court after hearing his bail would be $2 million.

Leon Douglas Remstedt Jr., 41, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon before Judge Tim Barnack and pleaded not guilty to three counts of recklessly endangering another, being a felon in possession of a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, attempting to elude police in a vehicle, possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine and driving while suspended.

Barnack questioned Rumstedt about whether he had a job and how much money he had. Rumstedt replied he was "No. 1" in a company that distributed gift certificate booklets, but then added he was new to the area, and had no money.

Barnack then set the sky-high bail amount.

"What is that? That's ridiculous!" Remstedt said.

"I don't think so," replied Barnack, who also ordered Remstedt to have no contact with minors should he manage to post bail.

Remstedt has been assigned a court-appointed attorney. A preliminary hearing has been set for June 4 in the case.

Deputies received a tip that Remstedt was operating the van described by witnesses, who saw a man drive up and attempt to contact young school girls in White City and Phoenix, said Andrea Carlson, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

The incidents occurred over the past three weeks and were a cause of concern for residents in those towns, Carlson said.

No charges were filed Tuesday in connection with the circumstances involving the young girls, although charges involving those instances could be pending, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Beth Heckert.

"We submitted the current charges based on police reports and evidence we had at the time," Heckert said.

Deputies arrived at a home in south Medford at about noon Saturday and attempted to contact Remstedt. After residents in the home denied that Remstedt was there, deputies decided to wait outside the home until a search warrant could be obtained, Carlson said.

Remstedt, who had two warrants charging him with possession of methamphetamine and a parole violation out of Klamath Falls, tried to escape capture by jumping out a window and running, she said.

Deputies, armed with handguns and rifles, quickly corralled Remstedt and placed him under arrest at gunpoint, Carlson said.

The 1986 Toyota van described by witnesses was later found at an address in Central Point. The van had been covered by a tarp, presumably to keep it out of sight of law enforcement, she said.

The van was impounded by deputies and its contents were being analyzed, Heckert said.

The first alleged inappropriate contact incident occurred on May 1, when a van driver pulled up alongside a middle school girl in White City and tried to talk to her. A similar incident also took place took place in Phoenix on May 18 when a man driving a light brown Toyota van drove up to a school bus stop in Phoenix.

The third and final incident occurred near the intersection of Hale Way and Falcon Street in White City. A girl was walking to White Mountain Middle School when a white man in his 40s driving an older, beige van pulled up next to her. The driver attempted to ask the girl several questions, including her name and where she lived, Carlson said. The girl did not respond and ran away, police said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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