Humboldt’s Homicide Total Grows by Three Over Holiday Weekend

possible homicide Eureka August 6

Sheriff’s deputies search near a homicide scene earlier this year. [Photo by Bobby Kroeker]

Over Labor Day weekend, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office entered three more deaths to its list of homicides. At this time, the Humboldt County homicide total, as confirmed with the Coroner’s Office yesterday is 13 which is substantially above average and on track to tie or even exceed our record 16 homicides in 2014. (Note: that we are going to discuss why different law enforcement agencies and different readers might count the number of homicides as either 12, 13, or 14.)

Humboldt Homicides jan 1 to Sept 7 2016

Homicides 2016 list from the Humboldt County Coroner up to September 7, 2016

On Sunday, September 4, two men whose identities haven’t been released were gunned down at a marijuana grow west of Hyampom and on Monday, September 5, 44-year-old Dana Hudson died from gunshot wounds he received on Friday, August 12. The Sheriff’s Department is now investigating his death as a homicide.

We went through the list with the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office. For years they have compiled these statistics. They decide which deaths are considered homicides (intentional killing of another) in Humboldt County and which aren’t. Below are the names of the dead that they have on their list. (Note: not all homicides are illegal. The death of a person killed by someone defending themselves is still considered to be a homicide. A legally justified police shooting is still considered a homicide.)

This list has several additions from last time and one notable subtraction. (See the below the list for why Kiya Kitchen has been removed. According to Officer May of the California Highway Patrol, a report will go to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office in the next week or two and that office will be able to decide whether or not to file charges.)

In some cases we’ve added new information in green to cases we’ve summarized in a previous story.
—————–

Hugh Duggins

Hugh Duggins

1)  Deceased: Hugh Duggins, age 71

Summary: Well-liked Southern Humboldt man Hugh Duggins was found alongside Alderpoint Road on January 21. At first no signs of foul play were found but a second autopsy revealed that Duggins died from “asphyxia by neck compression.”

Links to earlier stories:

2) Deceased: Arthur “Cricket” Ruiz III, age 42

Summary: Little more is known other than that human remains discovered January 28 near Hoopa were identified as Hoopa resident Arthur “Cricket” Ruiz III. He died of a gunshot to the head.

Links to earlier stories:

3) Deceased: Rodger Allan Yale, age 30

Summary: On February 13, an argument at a Hoopa gas station resulted in Rodger Yale’s stabbing death. The suspect, Gearold Sotolongo, fled and was arrested on March 9.

Arrested: Gearold Sotolongo, age 25

Capture

Links to earlier stories:

4) Deceased: Unidentified

Summary: On May 15, a mostly intact skeleton was discovered partially in the Eel River near Stafford. The person is believed to have died in late 2015/early 2016. According to Ernie Stewart the Humboldt County Coroner, though it is unknown whether this person was killed or died naturally, “We are treating it as if it were a homicide.” He confirmed that this should be considered a homicide for the purposes of this list.

Links to earlier stories: 

5) Victim: Rhianna McKenzie, age 19

Summary: At approximately 3 a.m. on June 30, a young woman standing in the doorway of a vehicle was shot. 

Arrested: Maxx Robison, 20 of EurekaRobison, Maxx

Links to earlier stories:

6) Deceased: Faith Tsarnas, age 14

Summary: On July 12 a little after 9 p.m., two teenage girls were skateboarding on Eel River Drive near Fortuna. They were struck by a hit and run driver. A suspect vehicle was later located at the residence of Kiya Kitchen’s mother. Faith Tsarnas died on the scene. Kiya Kitchen died later the next morning out of the county. (See below for why Faith Tsarnas is counted but Kiya Kitchen isn’t counted on the Humboldt County Coroner’s List above.)

Links to earlier stories:

7) Deceased: Brials McCutcheon, age 41

Summary: On August 6, McCutcheon was shot in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Eureka. At first, law enforcement were not sure whether he had committed suicide but eventually it was determined that an unknown person had shot him. He died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Links to earlier stories:

8) Deceased: Stephanie Gawboy, age 52

Stephanie Gawboy

Stephanie Gawboy practicing Aikido 

Summary: Gawboy was found deceased of a gunshot wound on August 17 in her Redway residence. However, it is believed she died earlier. She died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Links to earlier stories:

9) Deceased: David Fulton, age 59

Summary: After an altercation that began on August 17 with a landlord, David Fulton barricaded himself in his apartment. Allegedly, he fired at law enforcement early in the morning of August 18 and was shot dead. He died of multiple gunshot wounds. (Note: Not all homicides are considered a crime. Police shootings have been traditionally included on the list of homicides counted by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.)

David Fulton

David Fulton

Officers Involved in Death: Humboldt County Sheriff Names Officers Involved in Fatal Shooting of McKinleyville Man

Links to earlier stories:

10) Deceased: Jane Doe (7-week-old infant whose name has not been released to the public.)

Summary: On August 27, the Arcata Police Department received a call reporting an unresponsive infant. The baby was taken to the hospital where it died. The baby’s mother has been charged with her death.

Arrested: Ewa Misztal, age 28Ewa Misztal

Links to earlier stories:

11 & 12) Deceased: Two men, ages 48 and 50, whose identities haven’t yet been released.

Summary: On Sunday, September 4, two men whose identities haven’t been released were gunned down at a marijuana grow west of Hyampom. At this time the only information we have on suspects is that there were multiple assailants and multiple shots fired.

Links to earlier stories:

13) Deceased: Dana Hudson, age 44

Summary: Dana Hudson was shot near Sabretooth Road in Willow Creek. He was medevacked to an out of the area hospital. He died Monday, September 5 from his wounds.

Links to earlier story:

—————

Alert readers will notice that Kiya Kitchen’s death is no longer listed. Why?

Although she and Faith Tsarnas died as a result of the same fatal hit and run near Fortuna, Faith Tsarnas’ death occurred in Humboldt County and our coroner’s office processed the autopsy. But, although the cause of Kiya Kitchen’s death occurred in Humboldt, her actual death occurred out of county so it isn’t on the list. (Note: Though Dana Hudson’s death occurred out of county, he will be autopsied in our county and thus counted.)

In general though, homicides as they are counted by our local Coroner’s Office must be at least in part intentional. Deciding which count as homicides can be unexpectedly tricky with different agencies counting homicides in different ways.

One could argue that both Faith Tsarnas and Kiya Kitchen’s death was accidental not intentional so neither should be on the list. Then the count would be 12 homicides.

One could argue that the cause of both Faith Tsarnas and Kiya Kitchen’s death occurred in Humboldt and thus both should be counted. Thus the count would be 14 homicides.

Or, like the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office list, Tsarnas’ death could be counted and Kiya Kitchen’s not. Thus the count of 13.

No matter which way the numbers are added, Humboldt is on track to meet or exceed the former record of 16 homicides set in 2016  2014. Of course, there could be no more homicides this year but, should we stop at 12 this year we are still substantially above average.

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24 comments

  • No matter what the numbers, it’s too many 😕

  • 512 homicides and counting this year in Chicago, it’s everywhere.

  • May they rest in peace.

    Philosophically, I just don’t know. It is not right that people kill each other. How come so many people don’t see that? Yet almost all of us would condone it at some point on the continuum: death penalties, war, self defense… Whatever the circumstances, it should not come to death. Humans are all too willing to kill each other to solve problems, or, most ironically of all, for “peace”!

  • Hyampom is in Trinity County so there’s 2 off ur list

  • Thank you Kym! For explaining what a homicide really is. Too many of us thought we knew the definition from watching TV shows. It was also interesting to learn how they are counted. One would think it would be easy!

    • I know. I thought this would be a simple recap! But I probably drove Judy at the Coroner’s Office crazy getting the details right. (By the way, Judy is a very kind and patient woman. We’re lucky to have her.)

  • Last paragraph/Date 2014

  • Kym is correct … again. Just inside the Humboldt County line.

  • These aren’t drunk driving homicides. These are the real deal, someone set out to intentionally take the life of another human. Gunshot to the head, strangulation, stabbing. Mean people walking our streets and back roads. Sad. Very sad. I hope the mother of the infant is found to be bat shit crazy, whacked completely out of her head. If not, send her to the Philippines and let the vigilante crowd take care of her.

  • “High velocity gunshot wound of chest”….. how does this differ from a normal velocity gunshot wound?

  • One is to many!!all the souls lost by someone else’s hand.RIP

  • Vigilante crowd,take care of her??NOT COOL.i said something similar and was edited

  • Analyzing the homicides this year compared to other years would mean you have to analyze those years too. Were there people in those years that you may not think should be there? Still too many.

  • Homicide the intentional killing of another Fentanyl added to heroin can be intentionally altered as to for the most part guarantee a fatal outcome. ignoring the addicts and dealers can have fatal consequences for our communities.Some medical examiners have chosen to rule these deaths as homicide.

  • RIP.

    Prohibition in full swing.

  • from the NCJ article on the CHP shooting here is an amazing quote…and since the NCJ can’t/won’t/doesn’t deal with comments easily , I thought where might a better news blog be where this could perhaps be discussed?…hmmm, oh, I know..

    “From all the evidence and witness statements, the District Attorney finds the shooting was a justifiable homicide under Penal Code section 196(2) which states: Homicide is justifiable when committed by public officers and those acting by their command in their aid and assistance, (2) when necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to the execution of some legal process, or in the discharge of any other legal duty. Faced with a clearly lethal threat, Officer Curtis fired his weapon in self-defense.”

    now I hope that isn’t a quote of actual law but instead a mistake, because I see this part:..”…. ,or in the discharge of any other legal duty. …”…Yikes!!!!

    It is part of the report ‘From the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office:’

    I am unsettled by that language…

    ( I am not unsettled by CHP Officer Curtis’s actions however ..)

  • Pingback: Crimes in Marijuana Country: Exploitation, Rape and Murder - California Stop Pot 2016

  • Hi I live in Somerset KY my brother went to Humboldt County in Aug. Met some ppl and traveled onto Alaska. He came back to Humboldt Co on Sept 6th was picked up by his new friend named Donnie. He msg his gf that he & Donnie were going to check on the fields & he wld call her later. No one has heard from him since. We filed a MPR but we r hoping some of u wld help us pass his pic along on fb. Pls friend me and share my post. Thanks in advance! My fb is candy baker ernie mobley

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