More on the Jere Melo Killing

A comprehensive look at the Jere Melo killing and the suspect, Aaron Bassler by the Fort Bragg Advocate.

Smallcomb said Melo died of multiple gunshot wounds ranging from the lower to upper torso. Asked if the wounds entered from the front or back, Smallcomb replied, “Both.”…

It’s been widely reported that Melo was shot while encountering a pot farm in the forest east of Fort Bragg. When asked if a marijuana farm had been located where the incident occurred, Smallcomb confirmed there are numerous grows in that area of the forest.

However, what agents found closest to the shooting location was an opium farm, Smallcomb said. When asked, he said it did not appear that the farm was being operated by numerous people. In searching the area, officers also did not find any weapons.

“It looks like an individual operation,” he said, noting that a typical opium farm essentially resembles a flower garden, with rows of poppies. Users scrape the plant’s seed pods and typically transfer the opium substance onto dried marijuana or rolling papers.

It’s been repeatedly suggested that there may be a connection between this incident and the Aug. 11 fatal shooting of Matthew Coleman.

Coleman, a property manager for the Mendocino Land Trust, was gunned down near his vehicle off Highway 1 near Westport. When asked if there is a possible connection between the two shootings, Smallcomb said, “Anything is possible.”

When asked if bullets taken from both victims during forensic examinations matched, Smallcomb said that is “under close investigation.”

ABC News spoke with Aaron Bassler’s father.

Bassler told ABCNews.com both he and his daughter had called the jail after his son had gotten arrested for drunk driving half a year ago, and had also written letters to his public defender and the Sheriff’s office, begging for him to get help.

“We tried to alert the authorities – basically the way I said it, I still have a copy of the letter, ‘We fear for his safety, the family’s safety and community’s safety,’ if this mental illness isn’t addressed,” Bassler said.

He reportedly received no answer.

Mendocino Sheriff Press Release:

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by Fort Bragg Police, Cal Fire, Willits Police, California Highway Patrol, Fish and Game, Ukiah Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Guard, are continuing their search efforts in an attempt to apprehend Suspect Bassler for the murder of Victim Jere Melo. Officers are being supported by the Department of Justice as well as the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.

Law Enforcement Officers are conducting ground and aerial searches in an attempt to locate Bassler and obtain evidence to assist in the successful prosecution of Bassler.

The ground search efforts are focused from the Northern Coast to the East towards Willits, CA. They also include any type of possible sightings as reported by the public.

Efforts will continue until the suspect is apprehended by law enforcement.

All residents in the area should remain vigilant and consciencious of their surroundings. Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Suspect Aaron Bassler are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at 707-463-4086 or 707-961-2479.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank those residents and private companies, including the Skunk Train personnel and local media, who are supporting law enforcement by assisting in public address efforts in regards to law enforcement search efforts in our attempt to safely apprehend Suspect Bassler for the murder of Jere Melo.

UPDATE: Press Democrat put out another excellent piece yesterday asking whether Bassler could have also been responsible for the Matthew Coleman killing.

__________________________

Photo of Aaron Bassler who is being sought in connection with the death of Jere Melo from ABC News.

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7 comments

  • it doesnt look like a lot of houses are out in the area they are looking, but if i lived in that general area i would be freaked that this guy is still out there.

    really hope they find him,

  • it doesnt look like a lot of houses are out in the area they are looking, but if i lived in that general area i would be freaked that this guy is still out there.

    really hope they find him,

  • oh ya,

    i bet they will be finding quite a bit of illegal grows in the area since it sounds like they are flying it hard.

    what do ya think? will they raid those after all this?

  • oh ya,

    i bet they will be finding quite a bit of illegal grows in the area since it sounds like they are flying it hard.

    what do ya think? will they raid those after all this?

  • Sheriff Allman was on Ft. Bragg station KOZT Friday morning to announce that an arrest warrant has been issued for Bassler for both the Melo and Coleman killings. He emphasized that this is based on physical evidence tying the two killing to the same shooter. Bassler was identified as the shooter of Melo by Melo’s mystery companion, who has been reported to be the boyfriend of a daughter of a property owner adjoining the land managed by Melo on contract for Campbell Timber Management company. Bassler’s father and mother, though divorced, both still live in Fort Bragg. Bassler had lived in his grandmother’s house there, but that ended after her death (presumably from natural causes). Bassler was a Fort Bragg native and graduate of local schools. He was a “transient” only in the sense that he had no formal street address. That’s because he retreated to the woods where he was camping, and where Melo was killed last week. The quantity of poppies can’t accurately be called a “farm.” More like a personal use garden. Sheriff’s Capt. Smallcomb, who is running the search and investigation, said the poppies appeared to be for personal use. James Bassler, the suspect’s father, told the media he felt that the system failed to act on his repeated warnings that Aaron Bassler was increasingly delusional, antisocial, and a danger to himself and others. The senior Bassler showed a reporter a copy of a letter he said he sent to the sheriff’s department last spring when his son was jailed for 30 days following an alcohol and meth fueled truck crash into a schoolyard. No official will admit to having received the letter; and one said under advice of counsel he would have no comment about the existence of the letter.

  • Sheriff Allman was on Ft. Bragg station KOZT Friday morning to announce that an arrest warrant has been issued for Bassler for both the Melo and Coleman killings. He emphasized that this is based on physical evidence tying the two killing to the same shooter. Bassler was identified as the shooter of Melo by Melo’s mystery companion, who has been reported to be the boyfriend of a daughter of a property owner adjoining the land managed by Melo on contract for Campbell Timber Management company. Bassler’s father and mother, though divorced, both still live in Fort Bragg. Bassler had lived in his grandmother’s house there, but that ended after her death (presumably from natural causes). Bassler was a Fort Bragg native and graduate of local schools. He was a “transient” only in the sense that he had no formal street address. That’s because he retreated to the woods where he was camping, and where Melo was killed last week. The quantity of poppies can’t accurately be called a “farm.” More like a personal use garden. Sheriff’s Capt. Smallcomb, who is running the search and investigation, said the poppies appeared to be for personal use. James Bassler, the suspect’s father, told the media he felt that the system failed to act on his repeated warnings that Aaron Bassler was increasingly delusional, antisocial, and a danger to himself and others. The senior Bassler showed a reporter a copy of a letter he said he sent to the sheriff’s department last spring when his son was jailed for 30 days following an alcohol and meth fueled truck crash into a schoolyard. No official will admit to having received the letter; and one said under advice of counsel he would have no comment about the existence of the letter.

  • Pingback: Another Fort Bragg Homicide! « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

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