El Cajon

An El Cajon businessman was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison for kidnaping the daughter of a family friend.

J. C. Aler, 56, testified that on Sept. 11, 1990, he kidnaped of Sarah Zien, 26, who escaped the next day in an El Cajon drugstore but said, “I received a telephone call from a man threatening to murder my wife unless I did this. I had no choice but to carry this out.”

Aler told Superior Court Judge Thomas Whelan that the man demanded a huge sum of money and noted that the caller knew his wife’s schedule, including where she was playing tennis that day.

“This is not a case of me planning this event. I apologize to the Ziens. I apologize to my wife,” Aler said.


Aler pleaded guilty Dec. 28 to kidnaping. A charge of kidnaping for ransom, which carries a life term in prison, was dismissed.

Whelan imposed eight years for the kidnaping and added five years for using a gun during the crime. The judge also fined him $500.