Ukiah Daily Journal reports that Aaron Bassler, a suspect in the deaths of Jere Melo, a former Fort Bragg mayor, and Matthew Coleman, a well known employee of the Mendocino Land Trust, is probably breaking into vacation homes to access food and…shaving equipment.

Authorities believe Bassler is still somewhere in the forest, according to Van Patten, where his family said he had lived for about five months before Melo was shot in late August.

“There are a number of vacation cabins he could have accessed,” Van Patten said.

Authorities have found evidence of small camp fires, and break-ins have been reported at vacation homes in the area, according to Van Patten. Bassler was clean-shaven when he was seen Sunday.

“He’s very resourceful; he’s not out there eating berries,” Van Patten said. “People have called in because they noticed signs of a break-in; things were out of place.”

For the latest from the Ukiah Daily Journal’s piece, go here.

7 thoughts on “Fort Bragg Homicide Suspect Breaking into Vacation Homes…and Shaving

  1. Like any armed barricaded suspect in a house, after you tell them to come out and they don’t enough times, you take other actions to get them out. You can hold a peremeter for a long time if you are constantly sending in new people, but eventually you have to send your people in after the guy. I think some Marine snipers wouldn’t mind some hands-on live frie training and would enjoy a little vacation in the woods of Mendo. The overtime bill for this operation will cost the state already as much as some Sheriff Offices have budgeted for a year. Starving the guy out isn’t working with cabins there, and with the river nearby water isn’t an issue either. Time to go in.

  2. You can hold a peremeter for a long time if you are constantly sending in new people, but eventually you have to send your people in after the guy….Time to go in.

    I’m not sure there’s a conflict between “hold a perimeter” and “send in the search teams.” I would assume that they are already doing both. The thing is, the area they’re trying to hold a perimeter around and that they’re searching in comprises a huge chunk of land, and a lot of it is quite rugged terrain, so it’s just not that easy to find the guy.

    My guess is that he’s probably laying low during the days and moving around at night, which makes it much harder to spot him from the air. In theory, they ought ot be able to locate him with thermal imaging technology, but there’s a lot of square miles of area to scan, they can’t scan it all at one time, and he’s a moving target — which means he might get lucky and move from a not-yet-scanned area into one that had already been scanned.

    And keep in mind that we’re not talking about a Deputy posted every ten or twenty feet, the kind of tight perimeter that might be established around a suspect who was holed up inside a residence. We’re talking about a relatively loose perimeter out in the woods, so it’s always possible that he slips past the perimeter and out of the main search area. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, except that in this case the needle is a moving target.

    Of course this needle is also a warm-blooded mammal who needs to eat (and apparently needs to shave), so with all the manpower and resources going into the search, my guess is that they’ll catch him sooner or later. The repeated sightings and the break-ins at the vacation homes suggest that he hasn’t “made a run for it,” at least not yet, and as long as he’s in the general area where so many people, dogs, and helicopters are out looking for him, I think he’s bound to slip up and get caught sooner or later.

    I think we’re all hoping for “sooner.”

  3. On Sunday driving to Willits from Fort Bragg we saw several green armored vehicles traveling west bound on Hwy. 20 around 4:30 p.m. along with several unmarked vehicles. My guess is it was reinforcements

  4. What about an operation in the forest entitled, “Operation Creep Sweep” by the military to smoke him out? I realize it’s a bad time of year but Bassler will kill again.

  5. The Sheriff found a sign in the woods near Bassler’s mother’s house, from the Navarro Point Preserve:


    This is the same location where Mendocino Redwood Company forester Eric Grant was last seen on 10/27/2010. This property is managed by The Mendocino Land Trust, which is who Matt Coleman was working for when he was shot by Bassler on Land Trust property in Rockport. To me, this is a definate link between Bassler and Eric Grant’s disapearance. Bassler probably killed Coleman because he was mad about being kicked off Land Trust property and may have thought Grant worked for the Land Trust. Grant could have been shot on the Navarro bluff he hiked and his body washed away in the storm before the search started.

    The Sheriff says they only are using 2 dogs with 2 man teams. It seems to me that mostly they are guarding Bassler’s parents homes and waiting for Tips. They might be following his trail, but they are obviously scared of this guy and don’t want to get ambushed. It has been 11 days since Bassler was seen, so by now he could have hiked 100 miles. He could have gone north or south and be far out into the woods where noone is looking. There are cabins and vacation home around that he could break into and no one would know for months.

    Check out this article:


    What other missing persons can be linked to Bassler?

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