A Murder and a Missing Body in Mendocino: Sheriff’s Office Seeking Answers

This is a press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. The information has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:

On 05-18-2016 at approximately 7:08 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were called regarding a possible physical assault that occurred the previous day at a residence located in the 23500 block of Road 337D (Also known as Charlie Hurt Highway] in Covelo, California.

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Joshua Richard Ruoff

Upon arrival, Deputies found evidence of a physical assault and contacted potential witnesses.  During this initial investigation, Deputies learned Joshua Richard Ruoff had been witnessed assaulting Timothy William Sweeting with a blunt object on 05-17-2016.

Deputies began a missing persons investigation regarding as Sweeting’s whereabouts were unknown and he had no recent contacted with family or friends since the alleged physical assault.

Sweeting’s vehicle, a white 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe was missing and Ruoff’s whereabouts were also unknown.

Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau responded to the residence where the scene was further examined.

The scene was processed with the assistance of investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office and criminalists from the California Department of Justice.

During the follow up investigations, Sweeting was not located and was considered to be a missing person under suspicious circumstances.

On 05-19-2016 Sweeting’s vehicle was located on Mendocino Pass Road, parked on the side of the roadway about a mile from the residence.

As the investigation continued, it was learned Ruoff had rented a U-Haul truck and left the area for the state New Hampshire, where he previously resided.

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Detectives contacted the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit and requested their assistance.

The investigation continued and evidence was gathered, including witness statements and physical evidence that supported the belief that Ruoff had murdered Sweeting and disposed of his body.

Initially a felony arrest warrant was sought and issued for Ruoff for felonious assault with a deadly weapon, and on 05-23-2016 the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office filed charges seeking an arrest warrant for murder against Ruoff.

On 05-23-2016 the New Hampshire State Police Narcotics and Investigations Unit located and arrested Ruoff in Concord, New Hampshire.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives traveled to New Hampshire on 05-23-2016 and continued investigations for 2 days with the assistance of the New Hampshire State Police.

Multiple search warrants were served by the New Hampshire State Police at the request of the Sheriff’s Detectives.

During the two days in New Hampshire additional evidence was gathered to support the belief Ruoff had murdered Sweeting.

Ruoff was booked into the Merrimack County Jail (Concord, New Hampshire) where he was to be held on a no bail status. Ruoff was challenging extradition to Mendocino County and the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office is working on getting him extradited to Mendocino County.

At this time, the remains of Sweeting have not been located and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who may have information about this case to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau.

If anybody, particularly in the Covelo area sees anything suspicious they are encouraged to call the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at 707-463-4089, or call the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Tip line at 707-234-2100.



  • Cadaver dogs? Certainly cheaper than airline tickets! af

  • covelo attracts crazies. Every year Therea a killing or rape or some missing person. Mendo is the true Wild West

  • veterans friend

    Planet earth apparently attracts “crazies” as theybare found EVERYWHERE in case you were not paying attention

  • No, people go to Covelo to grow marijuana. They go there to make that quick money. Then they do their dirty deeds there and make a bad name for the town! This sickens me!

    • Not everyone can be considered a greedy dope grower who owns property near Covelo. Some actually hunt and enjoy the woods…

  • This saddens me, not only because of a life taken. Also because my mom used to life in covelo and I would visit her every summer. There wasn’t much crime there then, I loved visiting there.

  • just wanted to say title is a tad misleading. ‘ a murder and missing body” When i first clicked thought there was a murder and then a grave robbing or something. Just saying title makes it sound like 2 things, when it sounds like there was a possible murder.

  • Jaquetta graham

    OK c
    A person who comes from round valley also known as covelo not all of it is bad. Yes bad thing happen but its just like everwhere else bad things happen everyone makes it sound as if you come to covelo you will die. Sorry for this young man he got mixed up in wrong crowd and did. Saddnes me everyone’s so quick to judge our home town because its slowly changing just bad thing happen like everywhere else. Wow

    • I took a Sunday drive once and went through Covelo and Round Valley. It is a beautiful area and looks to be a peaceful place to be.

      The problems in Covelo are the same in any town USA.

      • Give it a rest the same not even close .opiate use black tar heroin addiction all out of control right here denial really helps no one.

  • I made those guys sandwiches at kieths and his friend came in and told me he was missing and I just couldn’t believe it I said no way I just made him a sandwich the other day I was upset and I hope they find him if I was the investigation person I would check out the u haul the guy was driving it was in are parkung lot at the store sorry for his family and friends

  • The reporting of the assault not being reported until the next day/evening, by the witnesses (?) sounds suspicious for starters. Could it have been a set up on the suspect??

  • Pingback: Dog Finds Human Remains Suspected to Be Missing Covelo Man – Redheaded Blackbelt

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