$10,000 Reward for Information About Missing Man Jeff Joseph

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 2:41 p.m. /  News

An enlarged version of the reward poster can be found here. At that site, clicking on each photo within the poster will enlarge the section further.

Family members have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Jeff Joseph, a former marijuana collective owner who went missing in the Weitchpec area last June. Friends and family have had no word from him nor has his green 1998 Toyota Rav4 been found. Several of his siblings believe that he may have met with foul play. The reward, as seen on the poster above, is contingent on the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for his disappearance.

Joseph’s family believe he came to Humboldt County in order to do a marijuana deal and to check on a property he was leasing in the area. According to investigator Jeff Kaplan of K&K Confidential, there has been no new hard evidence of why Joseph disappeared, but there have been a number of leads from some people in the Weitchpec area.

However, neither the investigator nor law enforcement have discovered any hard evidence of Joseph’s actual whereabouts. Detective Todd Fulton of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s said that the property Joseph leased was searched last year but there was no evidence of him having been there, nor had the neighbors seen him in the area at the time of his disappearance. In addition, after the first of this year when the majority of leaves had dropped from the trees, the California Highway Patrol, at Fulton’s request, did a flyover of the area in their helicopter and looked around for Joseph’s car along the Klamath River between Cappell and Weitchpec. It was not located. Fulton said that the area is very rough and it is possible that the vehicle was there but not observed.

Kaplan, who was hired by the family to help track down leads, says that cell phone information indicates that Joseph, or at least his phone, was in the area on June 21. Several people who might have seen or spoken to him while he was here have failed to respond to numerous attempts to communicate with them, Kaplan said

In an effort to get those people to contact the investigator or police, Joseph’s family have turned to the media for help. One individual is Robert Chris Hunter. Kaplan believes Hunter may have met with Joseph. He is currently wanted by the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department — see photo from his wanted poster on the right — and efforts to contact him have been fruitless.

Two other people who lived/worked this past year on the property that Jeff Joseph leased near Weitchpec are also important to speak to, said the investigator. One is Eliot Storms. Joseph’s family describes him as having been a friend and business partner of the missing man for over seven years. The other, Ben Rogers, was someone Joseph knew in Louisiana as well as here in Humboldt. A family member says neither have responded at all to multiple attempts to communicate with them.

Detective Fulton said that he had not been in contact with Storms or Rogers yet, though he did hope to speak with them. Hunter, he said, was one of Joseph’s numerous contacts across the country, and contacting all of them without a specific reason to believe they know something is time-consuming. 

Anyone with information may contact Detective Todd Fulton of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 268-3646 or Private Investigator Jeff Kaplan at (925) 890-0695. Detective Fulton said that even anonymous information may be helpful.


Man Allegedly Brandishes Handgun at Mall

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Feb. 25 @ 7:29 p.m. /  Crime

In an incident uncomfortably reminiscent of Monday’s stabbing at the Bayshore Mall, a man was approached by mall security at Walmart a little before 5 p.m. today and asked to leave. The man responded by brandishing what was believed to be a handgun.

According to Officer Stan Harkness of the Eureka Police Department, the man, a transient, then fled into greenbelt. Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the individual.

Over 20 Firearms Stolen From Gun Safe in SoHum; Owner Offers $5,000 Reward For Return

Andrew Goff / Wednesday, Feb. 25 @ 4:33 p.m. /  Crime

LoCO spoke with the victim in this case a bit ago. They are offering a $5,000 reward for the return of the guns in original condition. Call (707) 296-5017 if you have them. ;)

 Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release: 

On 02-25-2015, at approximately 8:44 a.m., Sheriff’s Deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a driveway located in the 3500 block of  Briceland Thorne Rd., Redway, to investigate the report of a found gun safe.  

Upon the deputies arrival, it was determined the gun safe had recently been cut open and dumped in the driveway by unknown suspect(s). The deputies found paperwork inside the safe that led them to a shipping container that was stored in the 3300 block of Redwood Dr., Redway. At this location the deputies located the shipping container which has been converted into an office space. The deputies met with a victim who reported their shipping container was burglarized and a chain link fence that surrounds the property had also been cut open.  It is believed the burglary occurred sometime last night.  It was determined that approximately 20-30 firearms were stolen. The firearms consisted of handguns, deer rifles, and shotguns.  The exact number of firearms or descriptions is unknown at this time because a family member who has this information is out of town and could not be reached.  

The crime scene was processed for evidence and the investigation is ongoing.  At this time there is no suspect information.  Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Man Barricades Himself in Someone Else’s Home, Allegedly Throws Knives at Victim

Kym Kemp / Monday, Feb. 23 @ 4:25 p.m. /  Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Garberville Division press release:

On 02-23-2015, at approximately 3:22 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a citizen who reported a disturbance at a residence in the 800 block of Mountain View Drive, Benbow.

Sheriff’s Deputies responded and met with a victim who reported an unwanted person inside the residence. The suspect was identified as Jacob Sherman (age 45). The victim stated Sherman had entered the residence without permission, was armed with a knife, and started destroying property. Upon the deputies arrival, Sherman barricaded himself inside the residence and refused to come out.

The victim told the deputies that Sherman threw kitchen knives and other items at the victim during the altercation. Officers from the California Highway Patrol were then dispatched for assistance. After a standoff of nearly an hour, sheriff’s deputies were able to convince Sherman to exit the residence.

Sherman was taken into custody and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, being under the influence of a controlled substance, and resisting arrest. Sherman was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was his bail was set at $50,000.

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Pickup Intentionally Set on Fire Today

Kym Kemp / Monday, Feb. 23 @ 4:08 p.m. /  Crime

Interior of vehicle. 

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

On 02-23-2015, at approximately 8:03 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call regarding a vehicle fire at the Lone Pine Motel, 912 Redwood Drive. Personnel from Cal Fire and Garberville Volunteer Fire Department were also dispatched. Upon their arrival they were able to successfully extinguish the fire and their efforts likely prevented additional property damage.

A Sheriff’s Deputy was dispatched and met with the owner of the vehicle who reported that unknown suspect(s) intentionally set the vehicle on fire. Evidence at the scene confirmed that it does appear the vehicle was intentionally set on fire. During the investigation, the deputy was told there are multiple witnesses who have information about the suspect(s) identity, however they have not yet come forward.

This investigation is ongoing and anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.


Redwood Drive to Remain Closed

Kym Kemp / Monday, Feb. 23 @ 2:56 p.m. /  News

The slide is still flowing. Rocks continue to roll down the steep slope. [Photo provided by Denton Carrick.]

Redwood Drive has been shut down between Garberville and Redway until further notice. According to Supervisor Estelle Fennell, Redwood Drive can’t be opened for some time. She posted on her Facebook page around noon today, “I just spoke with Public Works Director, Tom Mattson and the news is not good: the area that the original large boulder came from continues to erode creating numerous random rockslides that make it too dangerous to allow regular traffic in that area.”

According to Denton Carrick of Humboldt County Public Works, the slide is still moving. “I had my guys in there this morning and stuff was still coming down,” he said. “It was dangerous.” 

He said that the Caltrans’ blasting crew came down and looked at the situation but, Carrick said, “There was nothing they could do.” 

Blasting isn’t the only option but none of them are cheap. Supervisor Fennell posted that several options are being explored including containing the slide with metal nets. A similar strategy was used on Confusion Hill before the bridges were built. “[I]t may be an expensive fix (as much as $1.5 million!),” she stated.

There is some hope that the slide might stabilize on its own but, Carrick said, “Right now it is pretty active.”

 Slide material has worn a groove into the hillside as rocks tumbled down. Boulders are perched precariously above the road. [Photo provided by Denton Carrick.]

The Marketing of Marijuana: A Strategy That Benefits Growers and May Benefit Society

Kym Kemp / Monday, Feb. 23 @ 6:54 a.m. /  marijuana

Can marijuana marketing improve society? Maybe not on a one pound level, but when marketed on a larger scale … possibly.

On Saturday at the Ganjier Spring Kickoff in Redway, an employee from Harborside Dispensary gave tips on how to convince buyers to purchase cannabis. He called this creating “bag appeal.” While he talked, a number of growers leaned forward intently, scratching notes on pads. They were hoping to improve their chances of being a successful farmer and making their product more desirable.

But some of those vending at Saturday’s gathering were moving beyond “bag appeal” into connecting their product to consumers’ values. While the man from Harborside talked about how a pound of cannabis can be presented more attractively, the vendors’ area at this event provided some striking examples of farmers seeking to convey ideas about their products with subtle and not so subtle techniques. Some used visual images to convey a set of values. Some went beyond mere appearance.

One of the most thoroughly integrated brands was House of Aficionado with a sophisticated gold and black display promoting high-end merchandise. The brand seeks to impress the buyer with the sense of purchasing only the finest quality products. With strain names like White Cashmere and products like Magarillos—large cannabis joints handmade by a master cigar roller from Cuba and leafed with 24k gold—the brand is designed to appeal to luxury minded cannabis fans.

The lines are clean. The image is classy. Cannabis as a luxury product. [Photo from Aficionado’s Facebook page.]

At the other end was Happy Day Farms which reached out to an entirely different consumer with its rustic wooden boxes and mason jars of marijuana. Each container was labeled with a handmade tag advertising their product as Clean Green certified. Their booth promoted their farm which delivers organic vegetables to CSA subscribers as well as provides cannabis to other consumers.

Sunshine and wholesome values are conveyed with mason jars and wooden handled tin buckets. Cannabis as a natural farm product. [Photo by Kym Kemp.]  

Copying mainstream business models, each brand is multi-dimensional—portrayed not only at events but on websites. Aficionado’s website offers elegant images that convey a chance to step into a wealthier world. The descriptions there speak to the high end consumer. They portray a quality product that is carefully vetted. The website says

Aficionado has been custom tailoring highly exclusive designer cannabis for a small group of private clients ​for over 20 years. By uniting legendary heirloom genetics and visionary artisanship, Aficionado exemplifies the Emerald Triangle tradition of crafting boutique cannabis that must be, at once, exceptionally bold and refined.  Strictly produced in limited numbers and characterized by unparalleled quality- our exclusive varieties are reserved only for the most serious connoisseurs. 

On the other hand, Happy Days Farms focuses on agricultural images but also highlights their cannabis grow. The two aspects are woven together. The website twines a down-home image with a matter-of-fact acceptance of marijuana growing.

Grandpa’s saying was “Let us be happy in our work.” This is my fundamental life motto and I’m thrilled to live it while providing nourishment and medicine for my community…

As a board member of the Emerald Growers Association, I represent Sungrown cannabis and the farmers who grow it using ecologically sound best management practices.

The site offers environmentally concerned cannabis consumers a sense that they are not harming the environment and are partnering with mom and pop farmers in creating a healthy high.

Header from Happy Day Farms website.

These two organizations are seeking to market cannabis to consumers within the blurry grey area of medical marijuana law. They have to stand out to the consumer but not draw unfavorable attention from law enforcement.

Dominic Corva, Executive Director for the Center for the Study of the Cannnabis and Social Policy says that this kind of positive branding is good for cannabis growers and consumers as a whole. He says, “For economic reasons, [these cannabis growers] are harnessing themselves to a set of social values that are ultimately good for society.”

Corva (his photo on the right was found here) says that growers who market to the values consumers hold, may or may not believe in the intrinsic good of cleanly grown marijuana and environmentally healthy practices. However, by connecting their operation to these values, they are more likely to be following sound farming practices. He pointed out, “It is an interesting [strategy] that harnesses folks that are interested in preserving their income with social values—values they may believe in but that are now buttressed by economic forces.”

Corva went on to say that cannabis growers that market their product this way are “gaining the public’s trust by standing out and stepping forward.  The game that is being played is not just about selling agriculture products… Law enforcement is less likely to be able to say these are ecological damaging grows.”

In California, Corva says, law enforcement has realized that it can gain public support by highlighting and going after “bad actors,” growers that damage the environment. “Especially in California, what law enforcement has going for it is focusing on the environmental.” Corva said that law enforcement has been able to focus the spotlight on the environmental damages caused by some growers. “If [the public] thinks that all cannabis farmers are irresponsible, it hurts the brand of cannabis.”

Then, acknowledging environmentally damaging marijuana grows that have been found, he added, “Some of [the growers who damage the environment] should be gone after.”

Corva says that, on the other hand, by presenting “a familiar, socially conscious face” some growers are raising the whole brand of cannabis. “It is a viable strategy,” he says. 

Kevin Jodrey (photo on the left found at this link) wrapped up the Ganjier Spring Fling on a panel entitled The Future of Small Farming Communities and Healing the Land. He related an anecdote about what happened when the head of Rolex was asked by a reporter how the watch business was going. According to Jodrey, the head of Rolex laughed at the question. He said, “We’re not in the watch business. We’re in the luxury business and we’re doing great!” Jodrey made clear that perception was an important tool in protecting the small farmers’ interests.

Will many of the mom and pop cannabis farmers at the event attempt to step up their game and market a brand in a way that harnesses them to a set of social values?  If so, according to Dominic Corva, this could be good for society as a whole.

Vegetable seeds were marketed at one booth alongside cannabis seeds. [Photo by Kym Kemp.]