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Kidnapped teen girl and Tenn. school teacher found in Siskiyou County

Sheriff Jon Lopey

PNP comment: There is a video from Good Morning America ABC on the link below. Good work Siskiyou County Sheriff’s department!!! — Editor Liz Bowen

Man who tipped off authorities about missing Tenn. student Elizabeth Thomas describes ‘clues’


The man who tipped off authorities and led them to a former Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student said today there were “clues” that made him suspicious of the pair.

Griffin Barry came across Elizabeth Thomas and her alleged abductor, 50-year-old Tad Cummins, at a gas station in far northern California this week.

Cummins told Barry, a caretaker on a property that includes the gas station, that they needed money for gas, food and a place to stay. Cummins said their names were John and Joanna and that the teen was 24, Barry told ABC News today.

Barry said he paid to fuel up their car, gave them an extra $40 in cash and set them up in a nearby cabin on the remote property in Cecilville, a rural area near the Oregon border with little to no cellphone service. Barry is a resident on the same property.

Cummins and Elizabeth stayed inside the tiny cabin for two nights, he said, with no running water or electricity.

During that time, Barry said, he didn’t talk to the pair much but he noticed Cummins tried to “keep her away.”

“The girl wasn’t really looking at me or anything and he was always dominating the conversation. That kind of clues people in,” Barry said today on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”

“I had a photo of him that was the Amber Alert and I was like, that’s definitely the guy, and then we saw the car as well and it matched up,” he added.

After realizing who they were, Barry said he immediately called 911.

Elizabeth had been missing since Cummins allegedly kidnapped her on March 13. A day after they disappeared, he was fired from his teaching job at Culleoka Unit School in Culleoka, Tennessee, where Elizabeth had been a student in his forensics class.

Cummins was wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. The former teacher was also added to Tennessee’s 10 most wanted list. Meanwhile, an Amber Alert had been issued for Elizabeth.

Authorities arrest Cummins

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) public information officer Josh Devine said they received a call to their tip line about a possible sighting of the duo around 11 p.m. local time Wednesday. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department in California had received a similar tip, Devine said.

After investigators located a Nissan Rogue, they were able to confirm through its vehicle identification number that it belonged to Cummins. The car was then kept under surveillance for several hours.

Authorities from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department found the pair at the isolated cabin early Thursday morning, nearly 2,500 miles away from their homes in Tennessee. Deputies set up a perimeter around the cabin and elected to wait until the morning to arrest Cummins as he exited the residence, according to the sheriff’s department.

As daylight broke, Cummins surrendered without incident and Elizabeth was safely recovered by law enforcement officers, according to the TBI. Two loaded handguns were found in the cabin, according to the sheriff’s department.

“Our intelligence analysts and agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” TBI director Mark Gwyn said in a statement Thursday. “What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”

Speaking with “GMA” on Friday morning, authorities from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department said it was “an intense situation.”

“After we placed them into protective custody, she was laughing, she was crying. She was kind of an emotional roller coaster, as you can imagine,” Lt. Behr Tharsing said.

Tharsing told “GMA” that Cummins made some “spontaneous statements” after his arrest, telling law enforcement officers he was armed but not dangerous and would fully cooperate. Cummins also told authorities he was “relieved” the incident had come to an end, Tharsing said.

Sheriff Jon Lopey credited Barry for his role in securing the arrest, saying it was a “great partnership” between a citizen and law enforcement.

“We may not have detected Mr. Cummins had he not brought his presence to our attention. He helped us tremendously,” Lopey told “GMA.”

“Griffin definitely was pivotal in this event.”

Authorities had initially said Cummins was arrested at a commune in rural Siskiyou County but later clarified that the arrest occurred at a cabin.

A worker at Black Bear Ranch told ABC News that Cummins and Elizabeth had tried to stay at the commune but were turned away because of “all kinds of indications” that something was off about them. Cummins became angry when they were rejected, the worker said.



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Interstate Kidnapping Suspect Apprehended: Teenage Victim Safe

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report



April 20, 2017


On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at about 9:00 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a tip that a vehicle matching the description of Tennessee Kidnap suspect Mr. Tad Cummins, 50, was observed in the Cecilville area of Siskiyou County.  Cecilville is a small rural community located in a mountainous area of the county about 68 miles southwest of the county seat, Yreka.  According to reports, a male adult and a young female were staying in a cabin off of Eddy Gulch Road in Cecilville.  Deputies responded to the scene and verified that the vehicle, a 2015 Nissan Rogue, silver in color, matched the description broadcast nationwide via an Amber Alert dated March 13, 2017.  The original broadcast indicated the kidnap suspect; Mr. Cummins was possibly armed with two firearms, which prompted a tactical response by the Department’s Special Response Team (SRT).

The SCSO SRT responded to the scene, established a perimeter around the cabin believed to be occupied by Mr. Cummins and his juvenile female victim and elected to wait until morning to arrest the suspect when he exited the cabin.  A citizen who befriended the suspect and victim assisted SRT members at the scene.  On Thursday, April 20, 2017, shortly after 9:30 a.m., Mr. Cummins exited the cabin and was taken into custody by SCSO SRT members without incident.  The female victim exited the cabin and was walking behind Cummins.  She was detained at the scene for her protection and to facilitate further investigation and victim services.  Two loaded handguns were recovered in the cabin along with various personal items belonging to both Mr. Cummins and his female victim.

The victim appeared to be in good health and Mr. Cummins was cooperative with law enforcement authorities at the scene.  Mr. Cummins was transported to the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka and booked on a Maury County, TN fugitive arrest warrant for aggravated kidnapping.  Contact has been initiated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) investigators.  Memphis FBI and TBI investigators are en route to Siskiyou County to continue their on-going investigation.  The kidnapping victim has been transferred to FBI Agents assigned to the Redding, CA office.  She will undergo a forensic interview and as a crime victim, receive the care that she needs at this time.  Mr. Cummins will be arraigned on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.  Mr. Cummins also faces local charges for kidnapping and possession of stolen property.  These and other charges are pending review by Siskiyou County District Attorney, Kirk Andrus.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “I would like to commend the citizens that played a role in bringing Mr. Cummins’ activities to our attention, which led to a response by members of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.  I am proud of the men and women of this Department that played a role in this potentially dangerous surveillance and arrest, especially the Special Response Team responsible for the safe and successful resolution of this 6-week ordeal.  The SRT worked in freezing weather conditions but resolved this mission without anyone getting hurt, which was a good day for our Department, the female victim, and her family.  Like any major crime perpetrated against a young teenager, this case is a difficult one and will plague the victim, her family, friends, and the law enforcement officers and agents involved in the case for years to come.  On behalf of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the victim, her family, friends, and the all involved law enforcement officers and other members of the justice system as this investigation continues to achieve justice for all concerned.”

Anyone with any information about the activities of Mr. Cummins or his victim is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.


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Missing teenager Elizabeth Thomas found safe in California

Sheriff Jon Lopey

A Tennessee teacher and the teenage former student he was suspected of kidnapping were found in Northern California on Thursday, ending a manhunt that stretched on for more than a month, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced.

Tad Cummins, 50, was arrested and 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas was “safely recovered,” TBI tweeted. Officials planned a news conference scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.

“Gathering as many details as possible to share,” TBI wrote in a tweet.

Cummins and Thomas disappeared on March 13, sparking a cross-country manhunt made all the more difficult as Cummins apparently changed his appearance and may have switched out the license plate on the vehicle he was driving, according to reports. Court papers filed recently in the girl’s disappearance showed she was afraid of the teacher and thought she would face repercussions at school if she resisted him.

Investigators were flooded with thousands of tips from the public as the case gained national attention.

Cummins was fired from his job amid an investigation into alleged inappropriate contact with Thomas.

Cummins and Thomas wrote emails to each other and saved them as drafts in a folder of Cummins’ high school email account, Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper told WAAY earlier this month, indicating the pair had a “romantic” relationship.

“They would write the message and let it save as a draft,” Cooper said. “The other person would log in, read the message and then delete it and then write another message that was saved as a draft.”

He added: “If you read them you would immediately recognize you are reading messages between two people who have a romantic interest in each other.”

One of the email drafts shared with WAAY begins with Cummins telling Thomas that he “saw you standing next to you [sic] backpack this morning.”

“And [Cummins] makes a reference to a body part of hers and how nice that looked,” Maury County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Marcus Alright said.


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Missing Teen Elizabeth Thomas, subject of Tennessee Amber Alert, is rescued in Cecilville, California

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

50-Year-Old Suspect Tad Cummins Apprehended, Awaiting Extradition to Tennessee

April 20, 2017

NASHVILLE – Acting on a tip received by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation late last night, authorities in Siskiyou County, California have rescued Elizabeth Thomas and arrested Tad Cummins, after locating the pair at a commune in Cecilville early this morning.

Thomas, 15, was the subject of a Tennessee AMBER Alert issued on March 14th, after having been kidnapped a day earlier by Tad Cummins, a former teacher at her school in Maury County, Tennessee. On March 17th, the TBI added the 50-year-old to the state’s ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list.

This morning, authorities from Siskiyou County located the Nissan Rogue in which the pair were traveling and later located the pair. Cummins surrendered without incident. Thomas was subsequently recovered by law enforcement officers. At the time of this release, efforts to reunite her with her family remained ongoing.

“Our Intelligence Analysts and Agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”

The TBI has been assisted in this search by a variety of law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Maury County Sheriff’s Department, and the Office of 22nd District Attorney General Brent Cooper.

At the time of this release, Cummins, 50, remained in the custody of the Siskiyou County (CA) Sheriff’s Department without bond, awaiting extradition to Tennessee to face charges of Sexual Contact with a Minor and Aggravated Kidnapping. A currently booking photograph was not immediately available for release.


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Siskiyou County Peace Officers of the Year Honored at Annual Dinner

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

Report from Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office

April 13, 2017

               On April 8, 2017, the annual 2016 Peace Officer Appreciation Dinner was conducted at the Mt. Shasta Community Center.  The South County Elks Lodge #2333 hosted the event and the meal was prepared by Elks’ volunteers after it was cooked by Mr. David Tyler.  Every year the dinner is held and hosted by either the North County Elks, Yreka Lodge #1980, or South County Elks (Lodge #2333), to honor the law enforcement community and its peace officers and support persons of the year.  Exalted Ruler Mr. Craig Fisher and Elks’ Lodge #1980 representative Mr. Joe Schettino were present for the event. The festivities were supervised by past Exalted Ruler Mr. Norm Dettman of Lodge #2333.

              Ms. Erin Ryan, representing Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office, was on-hand to award the recipients congressional certificates.  Mr. Bruce Ross, jointly representing Senator Ted Gaines and Assemblyman Brian Dahle, was also present and awarded joint-senate and assembly certificates to the honored peace officers.  Supervisor Ray Haupt, Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, District 5, was also at the event and helped present the awards to the recipients.  Chaplain Andy Grossman, a long-time Chaplain for the Weed Police Department with prior service with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) provided the invocation and benediction.  Sheriff Jon Lopey, SCSO, officiated as emcee for the event, which drew about 150 participants from a number of local and state law enforcement agencies.

              The following award recipients were honored by their department administrators:  The Yreka CHP Area Office honored Sergeant Tim Lawson, a 29-year veteran of the CHP as its officer of the year.  He was cited for his exceptional leadership contributions to his Area and various community activities, including youth and hunting programs.  Motor Carrier Specialist I Joann Kaufmann, a 32-year veteran of the CHP, received the Yreka CHP’s “Support Person of the Year” award for her major contributions to commercial vehicle safety, including contributing to a 100% workload inspection record never achieved by the CHP’s Biennial Inspection of Terminal Program.  The awards were presented by Yreka CHP Area Commander Mark Loveless and Joann’s Supervisor, Motor Carrier Program Manager Mr. Dave Porter.

              The Mt. Shasta CHP’s Officer of the Year was Officer Jonathan White.  A 14-year veteran of the CHP, Officer White was commended for his superior investigative skills, hard work, apprehension of a homicide suspect, his superb actions as a range officer and he was cited for numerous youth sports events he attends as a parent and coach.

              The CHP’s Dunsmuir Grade Inspection Facility (DGIF)’s Officer of the Year was Eric Hohmeister.  He served previously in the Bay Area as a training officer, protective services team unit, which provided security for various world leaders and the President of the United States, and he served on the division Special Response Team.  Officer Hohmeister was cited for his professionalism as a commercial enforcement officer and he serves as a training officer, ranger officer, advanced officer safety officer instructor and he is a member of the Northern Division Special Response Team.  DGIF Commercial Vehicle Inspection Specialist (CVIS) Dave Chandler was awarded the “DGIF Support Person of the Year Award.”  CVIS Chandler was commended for his five years of exemplary service at DGIF as a commercial vehicle inspector.  He serves as the shop steward and is considered a hard worker, dedicated professional, “team player,” and expert at both federal and California motor vehicle safety requirements.  Both recipients received their awards from their commander, Lieutenant Brent Giordano.

              The Siskiyou Unified Major Investigation Team (SUMIT) selected as their Agent of the Year Alcohol Beverage Control Agent Brett Letendre.  Agent Letendre was cited for his professionalism, leadership, interpersonal skills, superior investigative acumen and for his superior efforts to train new agents.  SUMIT, with his assistance, seized 93 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.24 pounds heroin, 168 pounds of marijuana, 12,912 prescription pills, 2.55 pounds of cocaine, and 19 firearms during 2016.  SUMIT Commander Special Supervising Agent Ryan Maki presented the award.  Also in attendance were two high-ranking members of California Alcohol Beverage Control, Division Chief Chris Albrecht and Supervising Agent in Charge Matt Seck.

              The Yreka Police Department (YPD) Officer of the Year Award recipient was Detective Travis Cooke.          Detective Cooke is a 10-year YPD veteran and recently successfully investigated a murder, which resulted in a warrant being issued for the main suspect within a 24-hour period.  He is assigned part-time to SUMIT and is considered a dedicated, hard-working, expert investigator and law enforcement professional of the highest order.  YPD awarded its “YPD Support Person of the Year” to Animal Control Officer Dusty Wilson.  He was commended for his development of positive work relationships with non-profit organizations, his efficiency, passion, and professionalism as an Animal Control Officer and he recently achieved a 100% compliance rate for canine licensing in the city.  He has also worked tirelessly to assist with other ordinance violations, assists with enforcement, and clean up of homeless camps in the area.  He takes his job seriously and has been a courteous, relentless, and dedicated member of the YPD team.  Chief Brian Bowles, Chief of Police, was personally on-hand to present the awards to his co-workers.

              The Mt. Shasta Police Department (MSPD) awarded the “MSPD Police Officer of the Year” to Officer Frank Goulart.  Officer Goulart, a former LAPD officer and long-time member of the MSPD, was cited for his long and distinguished career.  He was commended for handling a murder investigation from start to finish.  He was cited for his professionalism, expert investigative skills, and tenacity in solving the case.  On November 16, 2016, Officer Goulart, while attending court in Yreka, helped to identify and apprehend an armed suspect carrying a rifle near a shopping center.  He detained four total suspects and held them until YPD officers could arrive.  Officer Goulart was characterized as the very best the law enforcement community has to offer.  Chief of Police Parish Cross was on-hand to present the award.

              The Lake Shastina Police Department (LSPD) designated Officer Rusty Owns as its “LSPD Police Officer of the Year.”  Officer Owens worked for a year with virtually no time off when LSPD was short of personnel and he filled in as the leader of the department.  He was cited for his exceptional dedication, tenacity, professionalism and selfless service to the citizens of Lake Shastina.

              The Siskiyou County Probation Department (SCPD) awarded its “Supervising Juvenile Correctional Officer of the Year” to Joe Burkus.  He was cited for his professionalism as a leader at the Charlie Byrd Youth Corrections Center (CBYCC).  His work ethic, optimistic attitude, and consistency were cited as his strengths as a CBYCC leader.  The “CBYCC Juvenile Correctional Officer of the Year” was awarded to Kreg Celaya.  He was cited for his two years’ service, work ethic, professionalism, and he graduated at the top of his class while attending Correctional Officer CORE training, where he received a Leadership Award by the Santa Clara Probation Department.  SCPD’s “Deputy Probation Officer of the Year” was awarded to Brian Murphy.  He was cited for his exemplary performance as a Supervision and Juvenile Drug Court Program Officer.  He was cited for his energy, passion, dedication, and excellent work ethic and his ability to balance rehabilitation with community safety.  SCPD’s “Support Person of the Year” went to Joy Pragg, Legal Secretary.  She was cited for her 11 years of service with the Juvenile Unit.  She is patient, reliable, handles a heavy workload, and is professional and hard working.  She gets along with others and is a “problem-solver.”  SCPD’s “Deputy Probation Officer of the Year” was awarded to Tiana Chandon.  She is a 10-year veteran of SCPD and works in the Juvenile Unit.  She is a firearm’s instructor and handles a caseload of sex offenders and Post Release Community Supervision inmates.  She is positive, approachable, and has been a leader in her unit since her assignment.  SCPD’s “Support Person of the Year” was also awarded to Sonia Cantrell, Administrative Support Assistant.  She is a 6-year employee and was cited for her versatility in supporting adult and juvenile corrections’ needs; she offers her assistance and support to others and is a true professional and she is courteous to everyone.

              The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) awarded a special “Sheriff’s Award Medal” to Water Safety Deputy Grant “Skip” Tuttle.  Deputy Tuttle, now retired served for over 30 years with the CHP before working as a Park Ranger and later, Water Safety Deputy with the Department.  He served for 14 years with the Department and amassed nearly 50 years of total law enforcement experience.  He started his career with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office.  Deputy Tuttle was commended for his years of life-saving service to countless citizens and others he contacted during his long and distinguished career.

              SCSO’s “Correctional Deputy of the Year” was awarded to Corporal Jennifer Zanni.  Corporal Zanni was cited for her exemplary work as a correctional deputy and she serves as an investigator in the Background Investigations Unit.  Deputy Zanni is known for her professionalism, leadership, superior job performance, and mentorship of young correctional deputies.  SCSO’s “Correctional Support Person of the Year, was awarded to Carie Daugherty, Fiscal Technician.  She was cited for her efficiency, multi-tasking abilities, responsibility for a large inmate welfare account, procurement duties, and her diligence has helped to prevent and curtail illegal smuggling into the jail.  She was cited for her outstanding performance, work ethic, positive attitude, and leadership.

              SCSO’s “Deputy of the Year” was awarded to Deputy John Zook.  Deputy Zook was commended for his exemplary performance as a field deputy, field training officer, leader, mentor, and he was cited for having one of the highest drug arrest totals on the entire department.  He is a mentor to younger deputies and has been commended by the district attorney’s office for his excellent investigations and courtroom testimony.  His character, bravery, dedication, dependability, and professionalism are legendary on the department.  SCSO’s “Major Crimes’ Unit Support Person of the Year” was awarded to Forensic Technician Bonnie Mortenson.  She was commended for processing numerous major crimes scenes, including murders and officer-involved shooting scenes. She attends numerous autopsies and is known as one of finest forensic technicians in the region.

              Chief Chaplain Keith Bradley, unable to attend the event, was awarded a “Sheriff’s Courage-in-Action Award.”  Chief Chaplain Bradley is the exemplary leader of 10 departmental chaplains and despite a debilitating illness he is fighting, he has consistently been available for special departmental events and he still serves his community as a pastor and his co-worker whenever needed.  He is an inspiration to all member of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

              Sheriff Lopey thanked all members of the law enforcement community, the Elks, Siskiyou Veterans Leadership Council, Marine Corps League, and the McCloud, Fort Jones, and Yreka American Legion Posts, and distinguished guests for making the event so successful.  He commended the award recipients and their family members for their support throughout the year, which made their contributions to the law enforcement profession possible.  A moment of silence was also held for peace officers killed in the line of duty during 2016.  Sheriff Lopey cited during a brief speech that during 2016 nationwide, 144 peace officers were killed in the line of duty, including 64 firearm-related assaults, a 56% increase over 2015.  He also cited the excellent interagency working relationships enjoyed by all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies from throughout the county, which makes Siskiyou County such a special place to work as a law enforcement professional.


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Siskiyou County Sheriff Office is searching for suspected body in Klamath River

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report


April 15, 2017

Unknown if Search is Linked to Missing Happy Camp Man


On Friday, April 14, 2017, at about 6:34 p.m. the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a citizen’s report of a possible dead body floating in Indian Creek in the Happy Camp area.  A SCSO deputy arrived at the 2nd Avenue Bridge and observed what appeared to be the body of a heavy-set male adult floating in the river in swift-moving water.

The body was then observed at SR 96 and was last seen in vicinity of the Klamath River at the Indian Creek River Access point.  A search by SCSO and California Highway Patrol (CHP) units failed to locate the body as it entered the Klamath River access point.  The Klamath River and other tributaries have been flowing rapidly and are muddy due to recent snow run-off and intermittent rains and water levels are very high.

On Saturday, April 15, 2017, in the early morning hours, a search by SCSO field and specialized units was initiated in the Klamath River area at a point where the body was last seen.  A fixed-wing aircraft from the CHP’s Northern Division conducted an aerial search of the area with negative results.  The SCSO’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team, SCSO Water Safety Unit, SCSO Dive Team, and other SCSO personnel responded and supported the search effort.  As of 7:00 p.m. on Saturday (April 15), search teams have detected no sign of the body.  A SCSO boat crew and SAR leader searched an area several miles downstream from the Happy Camp area with negative results.

Search conditions have been hazardous, the water levels remain high, and the water is moving swiftly along the Klamath River.  Muddy water is also adversely affecting search efforts.

Shortly after the search for the suspected dead body was initiated, relatives of a Happy Camp man reported him missing.  At this time, it is unknown for certain if he is the man observed in the water by citizens and law enforcement personnel.

Mr. Benjamin Arthur Camarena, 42, of Happy Camp, was last seen riding his horse on Indian Creek Road in the Happy Camp area at about the time the body in the river was reported.  The horse reportedly returned without the rider, reported to be Mr. Camarena.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “There has been an extensive search conducted by our personnel and allied agencies from the local area under difficult and hazardous conditions.  We will do all we can to find the body suspected to be deceased in the Klamath River.  The CHP has been very helpful and we will request additional aircraft on Sunday if the search does not end successfully on Saturday.  A CHP helicopter may be available on Sunday, which could help us recover the body suspected to be still in the Klamath River.

“It is too early to determine if the suspected dead body is that of the missing man, Mr. Camarena, and we are doing all we can to investigate his disappearance.  We allocated additional field and investigative resources to the Happy Camp area as well to investigate his disappearance and find out if people who saw him or associated with him prior to his disappearance can shed any light on his actions prior to his disappearance.

“Anyone with any information about the suspected dead body or anyone with information about Mr. Camarena’s whereabouts or his activities prior to his disappearance is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”




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Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office & Federal and State Law Enforcement Partners Conduct Special Enforcement Operation in Happy Camp

Sheriff Jon Lopey

March 15, 2017

On March 15, 2017 in the early morning hours, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) coordinated a multi-agency special enforcement operation in the Happy Camp area.  According to Sergeant Jeremiah LaRue, “The purpose of the operation was to conduct probation and parole compliance checks and to execute arrest warrants for people in the Happy Camp area previously non-compliant with mandatory felony and misdemeanor court appearance requirements.  Additionally, registered sex offenders in the area were targeted to ensure they were complying with applicable sex registry laws.”

During the operation, peace officers from SCSO (field, detective, and jail units), Siskiyou County Probation Department (SCPD), the Siskiyou Unified Major Investigation Team (SUMIT), which is made up of Yreka Police Department, SCSO, SCPD, California Department of Justice, Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office, Weed Police Department, California Alcohol Beverage Control, and California Highway Patrol members; California State Parole, and law enforcement officers from the United States Forest Service (USFS) conducted a series of compliance checks and warrant enforcement operations in the Happy Camp area and in the Somes Bar areas of the county.  Five arrests were made during the successful operation.  During the operation, two suspects fled on foot into wooded areas but have been tentatively identified and additional charges are pending for resisting, obstructing, and delaying a peace officer.  About 20 sites were visited by the multi-agency teams and numerous probation or parole searches, and registered sex offender compliance checks conducted.  The following persons were arrested during the operation:

Ms. Katrina Garcia, 19, Happy Camp, was arrested on a juvenile arrest warrant for failure to comply with probation requirements.

Mr. Rick Lester, 29, Happy Camp, was arrested for a felony arrest warrant – failure to comply with probation requirements; a probation search revealed he was in possession of .5 gram of methamphetamine; Mr. Lester was also found to be in illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, ammunition, and an illegal weapon.

Ms. Kristy Goodwin, 51, of Somes Bar, was arrested for illegal possession of a handgun and ammunition; she was also charged with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and booked for a felony violation of probation.

Mr. John Garrison, 31, Somes Bar, was arrested at his residence for a felony warrant for failure to comply with probation requirements and he was further detained for a possible parole-related violation.

Mr. Gene “Gino” Wright, of Happy Camp fled a Somes Bar location on foot and is being sought for various charges.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “I would like to thank the many federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that participated in this successful compliance and arrest operation, which will serve to make Happy Camp and Somes Bar safer and hold law breakers accountable for their unlawful actions.  Crime in the area often diminishes the quality of life for local residents and victimizes too many innocent people.  We will be conducting more multi-agency operations in the future and we will target areas of the county that have exhibited an increase in property and violent crime reports. During a recent town hall in Happy Camp and through other communications with area residents, it has become clear that additional work needs to be done in the Happy Camp area to address crime problems and we will persist in our efforts to do so.  We are also working with Karuk Tribal authorities, school, and other county agencies to use other resources to address the growing substance abuse problem in the area, which has a major impact on crime and deviancy.  Multi-agency operations of this kind maximize the resources of SCSO and other agencies and exponentially exact a greater impact on crime and puts offenders on notice that we are not going to tolerate illegal criminal activity in this or other areas of the county.”

  Anyone with information about fugitives from justice or crime in your local area is urged to contact your local law enforcement agency or the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.  Drug-related crimes may also be directed to SUMIT at (530) 842-8131.”


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Mt. Shasta: Woman Arrested for Alleged Sexual Exploitation of High School Students

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report


March 1, 2017

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at about 5:22 p.m., Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) arrested a woman accused of sexually exploiting high school age students in the Mt. Shasta area.  Ms. Mary Frances Fletcher, 42, a South County resident, was arrested and booked at the Siskiyou County Jail.  She is charged with unlawful sexual intercourse, knowingly dissuading a witness or victim of a crime, and the sexual-related offense is potentially a “serious felony” under California law and could result in a “strike.”  Ms. Fletcher was booked for the charges and held on $10,000.00 bail.

The criminal case against Ms. Fletcher was generated from a complaint originally received from the Mount Shasta Police Department (MSPD) in September 2016.  SCSO investigators initiated an investigation that alleged Ms. Fletcher had sexual-related contact with three high school students from Mt. Shasta High School.  The alleged sexual misconduct involved three minor boys and the investigation revealed the offenses occurred in unincorporated areas of Siskiyou County within a period encompassing several weeks prior to the initial report by school officials to the MSPD.  No school employees were involved in the alleged misconduct and school officials, when they became aware there could be inappropriate misconduct associated with the interactions between the suspect and students, promptly notified law enforcement investigators.

After the completion of the investigation, the case was referred to the Siskiyou County District Attorney for review, which resulted in the arrest warrant being issued, which resulted in the prompt execution of the arrest warrant by a SCSO Deputy.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “This case is still under investigation and anyone with information about these offenses is urged to contact the SCSO’s Major Crimes’ Unit at our 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

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Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office Recovers Body of Deceased Adult from Shasta River

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report


February 27, 2017

On February 27, 2017, at about 2:48 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) responded to a call of a dead body reported to be partially submerged in a tributary of the Shasta River in vicinity of the 4400 block of Old Shasta River Road (vicinity of SR 263).  Responding SCSO investigators recovered the body of a deceased male adult floating in about six inches of water.  A preliminary investigation revealed that there were no signs of foul play or injuries that appeared to be inflicted by other persons but the cause and manner of death cannot be reasonably determined until an autopsy is conducted later this week.  There is no evidence whatsoever that this case is related to the homicide investigation SCSO initiated last week after a man was recovered deceased while partially submerged in the Klamath River in vicinity of SR 96 and SR 263.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “The identity of the male adult has been tentatively identified and investigators were in the process of notifying the next-of-kin. On behalf of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to extend our sincere condolences, thoughts, and prayers to the victim, his family, friends, and associates.  The case is still under investigation and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the SCSO’s Major Crimes’ Unit at our 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.


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Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office Arrests Murder Suspect in Death of Happy Camp Man

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report


February 27, 2017

On Monday, February 27, 2017, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) arrested a local man for the murder of Mr. Jesse Francis Ward, 62, a Happy Camp man found deceased and partially submerged in the Klamath River on February 20, 2017 near a residence on SR 96 west of SR 263.  Mr. Jerry Merrill Corriea, 34, of Hornbrook, was arrested by members of the SCSO’s Major Crimes’ Unit (MCU) for the murder charge.  Mr. Corriea was already in jail on an unrelated charge and was booked for the murder offense, which will require an arraignment within the next 48 hours.  The SCSO’s MCU has been working an extensive investigation into Mr. Ward’s death since his recovery on February 20, 2017.  The SCSO investigation has revealed that Mr. Ward was residing at the residence in vicinity of where his body was recovered at the time of his death.

The body was recovered from the north bank area of the river by SCSO’s Dive Team and Water Safety Unit.  The case was deemed suspicious due to a variety of factors and after an autopsy was conducted on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, SCSO detectives, in consultation with the county’s criminal pathologist, coupled with additional investigative information derived from their on-going investigation, conclusively determined the cause of death and manner of death.  The cause of death included injuries inflicted by one or more assailants. The manner of death was deemed a homicide, which is defined as the killing of a person by another.   The charges against Mr. Corriea include murder, which is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.  First degree murder includes the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, with premeditation and deliberation.

In another development related to the murder investigation, Mr. Mark Alan Smith, 43, of Yreka, was arrested and charged with resisting, obstructing, and delaying a peace officer performing official duties and more importantly, he was arrested and booked for being an accessory after the fact.  These charges were related to the on-going murder investigation and Mr. Smith was charged due to acts or omissions related to events after the murder of Mr. Ward.  He is a known associate of the main suspect, Mr. Corriea.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “The arrests of Mr. Corriea for the senseless murder of Mr. Ward and the arrest of Mr. Smith for being an accessory after the fact are encouraging developments in the case but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure justice is achieved for the victim, family, and People of Siskiyou County.  We know there are others in the local community who know something about this case.  Anyone with any information about this case is urged to contact the SCSO Major Crimes’ Unit by calling our 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

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