[UPDATED with Info on Sonoma Co. Crime] Attempted Murder Suspect Arrested in Weott Last Night

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, April 16 @ 9:46 a.m. /  Crime

UPDATE from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office below the Humboldt County Press Release:

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

On 04-15-2014, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to the 16000 block of State Highway 254, Weott in regards to an unwanted subject. While enroute to the call, the female caller told Sheriff’s Office Dispatch the unwanted subject was Juan Luis Ayala Jr., 20 years old from Modesto, California, and he was wanted for attempted murder from Sonoma County. Sheriff’s Office Dispatch confirmed with Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office that Ayala was wanted for attempted murder and vehicle theft. Dispatch also learned from Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office the weapon used was a hammer.

When Deputies and California Highway Patrol Officers (C.H.P.) arrived at the residence where Ayala was at, the female caller met them outside. She told the deputies she did not want Ayala at her residence and Ayala was willing to surrender peacefully. Deputies entered the residence and took Ayala into custody without incident.

C.H.P. located the vehicle Ayala stole, a black 2000 Ford Echo in the South Fork High School parking lot. The vehicle was stored and Ayala was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where his bail is set at $500,000.00.

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.

UPDATE 10:58 a.m.: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

On 4/15/2014 at approximately 11:00 am, deputies were dispatched to Bailey Avenue in Petaluma regarding a victim that was attacked with a hammer. The victim was repairing chicken coops at a ranch when the suspect attacked him with a hammer. The attack was unprovoked and the victim had no idea why the suspect attacked him. The victim was struck in the face with the hammer and immediately lost consciousness. The suspect then attacked the victim again while he was on the ground. Two other workers at the ranch tackled the suspect and tried to detain him while law enforcement was called. The suspect was able to break free and fled on foot out of the area. 

Arriving deputies requested an ambulance and the victim was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with several injuries to his face and head. The suspect was identified as Juan Luis Ayala, 20 years old from Modesto, California. 

Deputies along with officers from the Petaluma Police Department and the California Highway Patrol began searching the area for the suspect. 

At approximately 11:40 am, a Petaluma Police Officer was flagged down by a citizen on Pine Lane in Petaluma stating that their vehicle had been stolen. The suspect who stole the vehicle was identified as Juan Ayala who had just committed the assault with the hammer. Ayala was able to escape the area in the stolen vehicle. 

At approximately 11:30 pm, the suspect Juan Ayala was arrested by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. Ayala traveled to his aunt’s residence in Humboldt County and he began telling her of the crimes he committed. The Aunt in turn called the Sheriff’s Office and Ayala was subsequently arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft and possession of stolen property. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office responded to Humboldt County to transport Ayala to the Sonoma County Jail where he will be booked for the above charges. 

The Violent Crimes Unit will be conducting follow up investigation on this case. 

For further information contact Detective Sergeant Shannon McAlvain at 565-2185.

$200,000 Worth of Heroin Seized

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, April 15 @ 3:05 p.m. /  Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

On 04-11-2014, approximately 10:00 p.m., a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy stopped a newer Chrysler four door sedan for exceeding the posted speed limit and failing to stop at a stop sign in the Myrtletown area of Eureka. When the deputy contacted the driver of the vehicle and explained the reason for the stop, the driver told the deputy he did not have a driver’s license. The driver verbally identified himself as Mario Martinez Torres, 20 years old , from Perris, California. A DMV records check revealed Torres driver’s license was suspended. The deputy arrested Torres for driving on a suspended driver’s license. The deputy noticed both Torres and the male passenger were very nervous and evasive when they spoke with him. The deputy questioned, identified and released the male passenger in the vehicle who was an 18 year old male adult, and also from Perris, California. 

The deputy notified the Humboldt County Drug Task Force about the traffic stop and the vehicle. The Humboldt County Drug Task Force obtained a search warrant for the vehicle, which they served on 04-14-2014. During their search of the vehicle, they located hidden compartments and over four pounds of Heroin, valued at over $200,000.00. 

Charges of transportation of a controlled substance and possession for sale of a controlled substance are being sought against Torres and the male passenger. 

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

Southern Humboldt’s Eaglet Hatched

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, April 15 @ 2:59 p.m. /  Nature

To those impatient for the Humboldt Bay Eagle Cam to show a hatchling or two bumbling about the nest, local wildlife photographer Talia Rose has taken photos of a tiny eagle offspring in the Benbow area of Southern Humboldt.

For several years, Rose has watching the Benbow area for eagles. Year before last a mated pair hatched and raised an eaglet but last year eagles were unsuccessful in nesting. To Rose’s delight though, this year the nest has been put to good use. About a week ago, Rose hiked to the nest area and spied a hatchling peeking over the edge. The above photo was taken recently when Rose brought a three foot long lens to the area to capture shots of the tiny inhabitant.

She doesn’t know how old the baby was at that time she first went up but she believes, “it was pretty new.” This eaglet, she says, is the first confirmed hatch in Humboldt County.

Ha! Take that, Humboldt Bay eagles… . On the other hand, the Bay nest has two eggs.

To see more of the Benbow nest and other wildlife go to County Line Wild on Facebook. 

To check the progress of the Humboldt Bay eagle eggs, go here.


In Remembrance of Cameron: Opening Day of Southern Humboldt’s Little League

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, April 15 @ 8:57 a.m. /  Community

Saturday, April 12, was the first day of Little League in Southern Humboldt this year …and the last day that a uniform numbered four will be given to any major playing for the group.

​Elijah Roberts, Cooper Scott & Orin Paula carry out the #4 Jersey made by South Fork students. [All photos provided by Becky Crossland.]

Cameron Varnell’s number four jersey was retired this weekend. South Fork woodshop and art department created a wooden facsimile to be displayed in memory of the boy who died on April 16, 2013 after battling five years with leukemia. Many of his former teammates are playing their last year of majors this season and, in Varnell’s honor, wanted to retire his number. 

After carrying out the wooden shirt, the boys return to their families and friends holding up four fingers each in salute of their friend​, Cameron.

Every kid playing in the majors is wearing a black number 4 for Cameron. Many of the adults are wearing number four also.

​Zane Schaafsma pitching for the A’s while Shane Kirk gets ready to run,. The number four patch is sewn above both boys’ hearts.

This year, the Southern Humboldt Little League has made some large changes. There is a new batting cage on the major’s playing area. The League built a new t-ball field and, with the donation of lumber from Whitethorn Construction, is replacing all the bleachers. A new scoreboard donated by Dazey’s Garden Supply last year brightens up another corner.

After selling 1700 plastic water bottles two years ago, the League made a commitment to provide free filtered water for everyone and stainless steel water bottles for each player. Becky Crossland, President of the group explained that the members wanted to do their part to reduce the use of plastic. She said proudly of their new policy, “That is us at Little League trying to make the right step forward as far as the world goes.”

​John VanMeter, who had been involved with SoHum Little League since it’s birth, throws out the first pitch​.

From the youngest players to the oldest, each began on Saturday the process of practicing what their coaches had been helping them learn.

​Casterlin Little Leaguers dog pile for the ball while a Redway Ranger runs home.
Ayden Butterworth-Bignon pitching for the Pirates​.
​Sean Hassal-Hass hits a solid base hit for the Dodgers​.

Darren Bruce of the Pirates pitching​.

Travis “T-Bone” Way gets ready to hit​.

Photo of Cameron Varnell & Thank you picture for Dazey’s Supply​.

A table near the field holds a thank you photo for a supporter on the left, a photo of Cameron Varnell on the right and a baseball signed by former teammates last year with well wishes for the boy in the center. The signed memento was put in a glass case and presented to Varnell’s mother this weekend. 

A group ​Little League players check out the photo of Cameron Varnell​.

Death doesn’t often touch Little League fields. The loss of one so young last year struck cold ice into the hearts of parents and left a hole that each child struggled to make sense of in their own way.

As a fresh season begins, as flowers bloom and the sweet scent of newly cut grass wafts across home plate, this year’s players have each other and a greater awareness that games, while important, are not the biggest things you can lose.

Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 14 @ 7:24 p.m. /  Oddities

Graphic from the US National Weather Service.

In spite of the clouds which rolled in this evening, the US National Weather Service out of Eureka thinks most of Humboldt will still have a chance to view tonight’s lunar eclipse.  The full moon tonight will pass through the earth’s shadow dimming the moon’s light. When this happens, the moon often turns a rusty color or “blood red” which leads some people to call it a blood moon. 

According to the graphic provided by the weather service below, the clouds are predicted to move out of the area by 10 p.m. tonight but some coastal communities may still experience low clouds which will block residents’ view of the eclipse. 

Right now the fog is rolling up the South Fork of the Eel River. It has reached Miranda and appears to be moving rapidly southward along the waterway.


If you miss this lunar eclipse, don’t worry. Another one will be occur on October 8 of this year.

Accident on 101 Near Redcrest

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 14 @ 2:47 p.m. /  News

A Honda Civic rolled over on Hwy 101 near Pepperwood. [Photo provided by Supervisor Estelle Fennell.]

According to CHP dispatch, there has been a solo vehicle accident near the Pepperwood off ramp. As a result, a white Honda Civic four door sedan has landed on its roof.

Two female occupants are out of the vehicle and an ambulance has arrived at the scene. 

One lane of Hwy 101 is temporarily closed. [Photo provided by Supervisor Estelle Fennell.]

Ford Commercial Being Filmed on the Avenue Today and Tomorrow

Kym Kemp / Monday, April 14 @ 12:45 p.m. /  Humboldt


Ford ad from the company’s website.

According to Caltrans, there is a Ford commercial being shot on the Avenue of the Giants today and tomorrow. There will be traffic control in the area of the shoot.

Casssandra Hesseltine, Film Commissioner for the Humboldt Del Norte Film Commission, explained that there was a bit of secrecy surrounding the exact whereabouts as car commercials can be sensitive. Sometimes new models are being filmed and the maker doesn’t want anyone releasing photos of their product before they are ready.

Hesseltine asked that people refrain from looking for the shoot. “We want to maintain [Humboldt’s] reputation as film friendly,” she said. “We don’t want to discourage any commercials.”  

We totally acknowledge that it is fun to watch,” she said, but, in addition to possibly having a new product that they are trying to keep under wraps, the film shoot involves driving a car and “we don’t want an accident to happen because people got in their way.”

She promises that all the movie buffs will get their turn in the future. “If it is a fun film shoot,” she said, “we will go public with it.” 

Hesseltine will only say that the shoot is in Southern Humboldt—Which is not a big reveal because the Avenue…it doesn’t make it even as far as central Humboldt.

So, there you have it… . There will be traffic control on the Avenue today but we can’t tell you where because that would give away the big secret.  If you get stuck in traffic lines, don’t blame us, we were totally willing to spill the beans.