Kettenpom Murders Premeditated?

Kristin Constantino(age 33)-one of the victims.  Her memorial page here.

Christopher Sky Richardson (age 26)–one of the victims. His memorial page here

Tomas Pitagoras Gouverneur (age 32)–accused murderer

Tomas Gouverneur intended to kill Christopher “Sky” Richardson and Kristine Constantino of Kettenpom before he even left Oregon suggests The Trinity Journal (sadly by subscription only) .  According to the story in today’s online paper, receipts, dated the day before the murders found in Gouverneur’s car, show he purchased “from two adult shops in Oregon” hand cuffs and ankle restraints. Not only were receipts found but to make the evidence even more solid, The Trinity Journal said, “Surveillance systems at the stores also showed him purchasing the items.”

To recap the facts of the brutal attacks,  Gouverneur’s fiancee was long time friends with Richardson.  Gouverneur had known Richardson and Constantino for awhile and is alleged to have engaged in marijuana business deals with them previously. Richardson and Constantino were in a relationship.  They lived not far from neighbors Jim and Norma Gund.

On a late winter day, as storm lashed the Northern California hills,  The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office received a call for help.  There is some discrepancy but the Trinity Journal points out the  court documents “indicate that Constantino’s 911 call for help reached the CHP dispatch center in Humboldt at 3:28 p.m. March 13.” (A Trinity Co. Sheriff’s Press Release stated, “On March 13, 2011 at approximately 4:45 pm the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center received a phone call from Humboldt CHP Dispatch regarding a female subject who had called 911 asking for help. The 911 call was made from a cell phone so the call went to the Humboldt CHP Dispatch Center.” I believe this was a conflation of a later call made by or on behalf of the injured neighbor, Norma Gund. See timing of her call later.)

The call according to CHP records (see LOCO’s post) came from a rural part of Trinity Co. identified by the caller as the end of the Kettenpom airstrip.  The caller, a woman, was “…whispering help, help over and over again…”  The CHP dispatcher informed the Trinity Co. Sheriff who were a long distance from the alleged home–various documents state travel time could be as much as 2 1/2 hours. Court documents filed by the Gunds state,

Allegedly a Trinity County Deputy Sheriff tried to dial the number provided by the caller but was unsuccessful. Thereafter, Trinity County Sheriff Corporal Ron Whitman called the Gund’s who resided in a home approximately one quarter mile from the residence where the distress calls had originated.

Allegedly, no recorded copy of the discussion between Corporal Whitman and Norma Gund exists. Claimants have been informed that the call from Corporal Whitman was from a cell phone. The Trinity County Sheriffs Department has advised that no recording of the conversation exists.

The Gunds and the Sheriff’s Dept have differing versions of the events. Court documents filed by the Gunds state,

During said conversation, Corporal Whitman requested that Mr. and Mrs. Gund go to “check on Kristine” Constantino, the individual who resided at the home from where the distress calls originated. Corporal Whitman asked the Gund’s to check on the 911 call since it was “likely a phone malfunction due to the recent inclement weather”. Nothing was said regarding a whispered distress “help me” call.

According to the Redding’s Searchlight, the Trinity Co. Sheriff maintains that the deputy

…told the couple to stay put and merely asked if they could see anything suspicious going on at their neighbors’ place. The deputy knew the Gunds were longtime local residents, and he was under the impression the Gunds could see Constantino’s home, Haney has said.

“At no time, was Mrs. Gund instructed to go to Kristine’s residence,” Haney’s statement said. “Nor would the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office ever send a citizen to perform a deputy’s job.”

Both sides agree however that the Gunds drove together to the Constantino residence in their truck.  The Gunds claim against Trinity Co.  then states that the Gunds had “no safety concerns.  It adds,

Mr. Gund stayed in the truck and Mrs. Gund went up to the residence to contact Kristine.  After a short period of time, Mr. Gund heard a commotion coming from the residence.  He exited his truck and walked to the residence to check on his wife.  As he got near the front door, he could see an unknown male attacking his wife.  Mr. Gund could see the suspect holding Mrs Gund down and proceed to cut her throat with a knife.  Mr. Gund thereafter ran to the door and entered the house in an attempt to help Mrs. Gund.

As Mr. Gund entered the home, the assailant attacked him.  Mrs. Gund was able to get away at that time and was able to drive their vehicle to the Kettenpom store.  Mr. Gund was tased by the suspect and punched several times.  [He] could see a motionless body on the floor in the living room of the residence with a bag over the head.  Mr. Gund believed that the individual he observed was deceased and he suspected that the assailant was going to attempt to kill him.

The assailant placed his knife by Mr. Gund’s throat and managed to cut Mr. Gund, however Mr. Gund was ultimately able to grab the knife with his hand and disarm the suspect.

Mr. Gund left the scene and had to run to his house through the woods to get to his vehicle.  As he was running to his house, he saw the assailant flee the scene.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Gund made it to the Kettenpom store. A the owner related his impressions on this blog,

My employee and a local patron were in the store when the first victim arrived at the store and had a huge slit on her throat. The cut had penetrated her airway but had somehow not cut through the major arteries. She was able to vocalize to some extent but it was pretty dramatic to hear her voice coming out of her mouth and the slit in her throat.

I asked her who had done this to her. She told me that he looked normal but that he was “BAD.”

She told me he was going to kill her husband and where they were at. She wrote a note when talking became too much for her. I called 911 to get help on the way for her.

Records show that the call was made at 4:48 pm.

Then I left the store armed and with a good friend and closest neighbor to see if we could save her husband. As we made the short drive to their house we saw the second victim pulling out of his driveway. His wounds were more superficial and it was clear his life was not in danger. He told us more what the guy looked like and what he was driving. He went to the store to check on his wife and to receive some treatment himself….Both of the surviving victims were tasered. They had wounds to their face from the hooks lodging into their faces. I saw the wounds myself.
Jim also said he was tasered on his spine…. I know he was hit with a Taser multiple times.

Records show that a second call was made minutes later.

We continued down the road to see if we could find the suspect. Upon pulling partway down the long driveway we could see that the car was not any longer at the residence. We turned around and returned to the store to make sure the suspect didn’t go to the store and to make more calls to try to ensure that this car didn’t make it out of the area. There are basically three routes of travel out of here. Once it was realized that two out of three routes were covered by people who responded and were looking for the suspect car that really only left the Mina Rd. as the possible escape route.

According to the Trinity Co. Journal, the first officers did not arrive at the scene until 5:43 pm. The same article also states,

The cause of death for Constantino was determined to be strangulation, the affidavit by Det. Bryan Ward states. The cause of death for Richardson was strangulation with blunt force trauma to the head.

The documents indicate the victims were tortured. Their bodies were found in the Constantino residence with their hands bound with handcuffs. Richardson had a plastic bag over his head secured with tape around his neck. Their legs were bound with rope and they were tied to a staircase. Richardson also had a rope and electrical cord wrapped around his neck. The rope went from his neck to a double pulley hanging from an eyebolt screwed into one of the ceiling rafters, according to the affidavits.

The Mendocino Co. Sheriff Dept. stated that they had been alerted to look out for the suspect’s vehicle at 6:20 pm.  Their press release stated,

Trinity County Sheriffs Office advised they had an outstanding suspect, who was responsible for a double fatal stabbing, flee Trinity County at approximately 1700 and a possible route of travel would be Mina Road en route to Highway 162 through Covelo,Ca.  ….

Deputies left the Willits area en route to Covelo via Highway 162.  At approximately 1845 deputies were driving on Highway 162 towards Covelo.  At approximately mile post marker ten (10) they parked their car so they could see the roadway and anyone traveling along its path.  Soon after parking along the road, they observed the listed suspect, who fit the suspect description as well as the suspect vehicle, pass them and continue driving West on Highway 162.

Deputies initiated their emergency lights in an attempt to make a vehicle stop.  The suspect failed to yield and a pursuit was initiated.

Mendocino County Sheriffs Deputies requested the assistance of Willits Police Department and the California Highway Patrol.  Deputies followed the suspect at speeds ranging from 60 to 90 miles per hour.  The suspect then turned south onto Highway 101 towards Willits,California with a single sheriffs unit continuing the pursuit.  At approximately Mile Marker 54 near Appliance Lane,which is north of Willits,California, the suspect lost control of his vehicle and struck a large oak tree.

Deputies responded to the wrecked vehicle along with medical personnel and observed the suspect had succumbed to injuries received from the accident.

According to the article in the Trinity Co. Journal,

…The search of the vehicle … resulted in seizure of eight bags of processed marijuana and a glass jar with marijuana, a tote bag with marijuana and $11,000 in a duffle bag with marijuana. Another $1,000 in cash was found in a separate duffle bag.

Trinity Co. alleges that the money “proceeds from drug sales or money meant to buy drugs.”  They are attempting to seize the money but family members of both Tomas Gouverneur and, his alleged victim, Kristin Constantino, have opposed the forfeiture. The victim’s family presumably because they are alleging it was stolen by Gouverneur from Constantino.

The Trinity Co. Sheriff’s Dept in processing the scene of the double homicide stated,

While Detectives, Deputies and the California Department of Justice were processing the scene of the Constantino residence they discovered evidence of a marijuana operation.

Further points that should be noted in this terrible tragedy.

Letter to the editor from Jim Gund

Toxicology reports on the victims and the suspect show no evidence of drug use.

A $10 million dollar law suit has been filed by the Gunds against Trinity Co.

——————————–

Thank you to Scott Flowers for pointing The Trinity Co. Journal’s story out in a comment on another post.

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41 comments

  • This story was the reason I started following your blog to begin with. It has shaken me and even made me feel ill at times. I wish there could be more answers … thank you for posting this today.

  • This story was the reason I started following your blog to begin with. It has shaken me and even made me feel ill at times. I wish there could be more answers … thank you for posting this today.

  • Ugly story. Outstanding report, Kym.
    Sigh.

  • Ugly story. Outstanding report, Kym.
    Sigh.

  • OK, there’s evidence of premeditation to restrain the victims. Thats not the same as evidence of premeditation to murder them. Like everyone else, I wonder what Tomas’ motive and plan was. Suppose we’ll never know with certainty.

    As to the $12,000, is there evidence that suggests where it may have come from? Like, did any of them have income sources that reasonably generated it as savings? Was it recently withdrawn from an account? Course, the obvious conclusion is that the money is linked in some way to the pot.

  • I think it’s naive to presume this was premeditated murder. If it were he would have brought a gun. He brought a tazer and and handcuffs, the perfect tools he needed to restrain them while he ripped them off, and when he heard the Gund’s car arrive –things got out of control. Strangling someone to death isn’t usually premeditated, it is an act of passion.

  • I think it’s naive to presume this was premeditated murder. If it were he would have brought a gun. He brought a tazer and and handcuffs, the perfect tools he needed to restrain them while he ripped them off, and when he heard the Gund’s car arrive –things got out of control. Strangling someone to death isn’t usually premeditated, it is an act of passion.

  • Complements to Kim for laying the facts of this event out clearly. Well sourced i-grade journalism.
    whew! This dude was on a rampage. Poetically just denouement in the way the perp wasted himself.
    Direct action justice. Whew again!

  • Complements to Kim for laying the facts of this event out clearly. Well sourced i-grade journalism.
    whew! This dude was on a rampage. Poetically just denouement in the way the perp wasted himself.
    Direct action justice. Whew again!

  • Thanks to Kym for clearly tracking the story. You ignored the name calling and ugly character assassinations while beating the drum of fairness and consideration for all parties upset by this event, including those acting hatefully and poorly. Staying above the ugliness and sticking to the facts says much about you, and explains the popularity of this blog.

    While I don’t want to inject gratuitous drama into this conversation, I feel I must speak to those that blamed anyone but the perpetrator for this heinous event: I can understand you must have been shocked and upset someone you care about could be accused of something so hateful and ugly. I can understand you would prefer it was not their fault. I cannot accept saying such horrible things about the neighbors, you have never met. They ran to help folks that needed it. No concern for their own safety. These are the kind of people I wish to have as neighbors. These are the kind of people we all wish to have as neighbors. This madman tried to end their lives, after proving he could, and would.

    I ask those of you that erred by hating, that so easily attacked the victims, prove you have character, and acknowledge your error. Apologize, and ask to be forgiven. Taking responsibility will lighten your load, and possibly help the surviving victims by showing some shred of kindness, a sliver of that shown by them.

    Above all I wish the Gunds Godspeed.

  • Thanks to Kym for clearly tracking the story. You ignored the name calling and ugly character assassinations while beating the drum of fairness and consideration for all parties upset by this event, including those acting hatefully and poorly. Staying above the ugliness and sticking to the facts says much about you, and explains the popularity of this blog.

    While I don’t want to inject gratuitous drama into this conversation, I feel I must speak to those that blamed anyone but the perpetrator for this heinous event: I can understand you must have been shocked and upset someone you care about could be accused of something so hateful and ugly. I can understand you would prefer it was not their fault. I cannot accept saying such horrible things about the neighbors, you have never met. They ran to help folks that needed it. No concern for their own safety. These are the kind of people I wish to have as neighbors. These are the kind of people we all wish to have as neighbors. This madman tried to end their lives, after proving he could, and would.

    I ask those of you that erred by hating, that so easily attacked the victims, prove you have character, and acknowledge your error. Apologize, and ask to be forgiven. Taking responsibility will lighten your load, and possibly help the surviving victims by showing some shred of kindness, a sliver of that shown by them.

    Above all I wish the Gunds Godspeed.

  • These murders were definately a premeditated event becuase the victims were dead when the Gund’s arrived, this is common sense that is uncommon today. Had the call been made when the first victim was attacked and someone could have responded with a firearm, perhaps this would of ended differently. The fact that the store owner and others, neighbors, and a citizen posse formed quickly to prevent this murdering madman from escape on two of three roads out and maybe more murdering is what is important and this is people at their best and thanks should go out to the Mendo County Sheriff’s deputy/deputies who did their jobs well that day. For the murderer’s family to be trying to get the money he was stealing after the murders is really pathetic.

    • No, common sense says that he would have brought a gun if it were premeditated. A tazer and handcuffs are for restraining someone while you rob them and escape. So if that is the case then the victims would still be alive when the Gunds approached the house. To assume that the victim’s were already dead when the perpetrator heard the Gund’s car arrive is ignorant. One can hear an approaching vehicle for at least a half mile in these quiet hills. And the roads make for slow driving.

      The premeditated spin is obviously an attempt to lessen the impact of the Gund’s charge against the sheriff. That the murders were premeditated, or that the victims were already dead when the Gunds arrived, are facts not proven. But of course with that spin the sheriff doesn’t look so guilty for ignorantly sending the Gunds to a crime scene as citizens to do what is the sheriff’s job (unwilling citizens if they’d known it was a possible crime scene). And so then the sheriff does not look guilty for their part in the events leading up to the attack on the Gunds, and of also perhaps causing Guevenor to murder the victims when he freaked out as he heard the Gunds car approaching. The blame here, along with being directly on Gouverneur, is also in part due to the sheriff’s irresponsibly. Sending the Gunds to a possible crime scene to intervene is reckless and totally irresponsible. There is plenty of time to strangle two people who you have tied up to rob when you can hear a vehicle approaching you from a half mile away.

      The sheriff’s bungling of the instructions to the Gunds may play a part in causing the the two deaths, and they are most definitely guilty of partaking in the causing the Gund’s injuries , and guilty of nearly causing their deaths too. I hope the Gund’s have employed some smart lawyers who can expose the sherriff’s guilt and stop them from lying their way out of it. I hope they kick ass and win the millions. They deserve it.

      • Curious as to why you feel a firearm is a prerequisite for premeditated murder? Plenty of planned homicides have occurred in the absence of any firearm.

        • I didn’t say it was a prerequisite, you are putting words in my mouth. I said it’s common sense. If one is planning out to murder someone I don’t think one would decide to taze them, handcuff them and then strangle them. We could suppose that one might, but common sense says that one would choose the efficient method of shooting them.

          The victims were handcuffed and “Their legs were bound with rope and they were tied to a staircase. Richardson also had a rope and electrical cord wrapped around his neck. The rope went from his neck to a double pulley hanging from an eyebolt screwed into one of the ceiling rafters, “ according to the article. Why would he go through such a rigamarole to commit a murder. This suggests that he was tying them up so that they couldn’t move or escape until someone found them, giving him lots of time to get away unnoticed. Again, use your common sense, I’m suggesting that this doesn’t fit with a premeditated murder scenario.

          I’m not saying it wasn’t premeditated, I’m just saying that we don’t know. And I will add that I think it is totally irresponsible of Kym to say in her headline that it was.

          • Actually, Anne, that has been bothering me, too. I just added a question mark to the title. Thanks for adding the last weight to my questioning myself and tip me into making the change.

          • I think you’ve raised some reasonable questions here, and I agree that the purchase of the restraints is not, in an of itself, evidence of premeditation to commit murder.

            But I’m less convinced by the argument that “common sense” would dictate the use of a firearm. There are several common sense reasons why someone might choose to avoid using a firearm. One is that first you have to obtain one. And despite the prevalence of guns in this country, not everyone has one at their fingertips. For example, if I decided tonight that I needed to get my hands on a handgun, I really don’t know where I would get one. I don’t own one, and I don’t know anyone who has one who would be foolish enough to loan it out.

            Another common-sense issue is that the gun would need to be disposed of after the murder, and as we know guns are very often used to tie the suspect to the murder through ballistics, fingerprints, and other types of forensic science. And lastly, guns make noise whereas some other methods of killing are much quieter.

            Again, I do agree with your overall point that the info about the purchase of the items used to restrain the victims is not really evidence of premeditation to commit murder, and might fit in just as well (or perhaps better) with a scenario that involved premeditation to commit some kind of kidnapping / hostage-taking / robbery.

            One last point: The fact that a murderer’s actions may not show
            “common sense” should not be surprising — it seems to me that by the point where you’ve decided to murder someone, “common sense” has pretty much gone by the wayside. And indeed, the ways that people go about killing other people are surprisingly varied and not always the easiest, most efficient way.

  • These murders were definately a premeditated event becuase the victims were dead when the Gund’s arrived, this is common sense that is uncommon today. Had the call been made when the first victim was attacked and someone could have responded with a firearm, perhaps this would of ended differently. The fact that the store owner and others, neighbors, and a citizen posse formed quickly to prevent this murdering madman from escape on two of three roads out and maybe more murdering is what is important and this is people at their best and thanks should go out to the Mendo County Sheriff’s deputy/deputies who did their jobs well that day. For the murderer’s family to be trying to get the money he was stealing after the murders is really pathetic.

    • No, common sense says that he would have brought a gun if it were premeditated. A tazer and handcuffs are for restraining someone while you rob them and escape. So if that is the case then the victims would still be alive when the Gunds approached the house. To assume that the victim’s were already dead when the perpetrator heard the Gund’s car arrive is ignorant. One can hear an approaching vehicle for at least a half mile in these quiet hills. And the roads make for slow driving.

      The premeditated spin is obviously an attempt to lessen the impact of the Gund’s charge against the sheriff. That the murders were premeditated, or that the victims were already dead when the Gunds arrived, are facts not proven. But of course with that spin the sheriff doesn’t look so guilty for ignorantly sending the Gunds to a crime scene as citizens to do what is the sheriff’s job (unwilling citizens if they’d known it was a possible crime scene). And so then the sheriff does not look guilty for their part in the events leading up to the attack on the Gunds, and of also perhaps causing Guevenor to murder the victims when he freaked out as he heard the Gunds car approaching. The blame here, along with being directly on Gouverneur, is also in part due to the sheriff’s irresponsibly. Sending the Gunds to a possible crime scene to intervene is reckless and totally irresponsible. There is plenty of time to strangle two people who you have tied up to rob when you can hear a vehicle approaching you from a half mile away.

      The sheriff’s bungling of the instructions to the Gunds may play a part in causing the the two deaths, and they are most definitely guilty of partaking in the causing the Gund’s injuries , and guilty of nearly causing their deaths too. I hope the Gund’s have employed some smart lawyers who can expose the sherriff’s guilt and stop them from lying their way out of it. I hope they kick ass and win the millions. They deserve it.

      • Curious as to why you feel a firearm is a prerequisite for premeditated murder? Plenty of planned homicides have occurred in the absence of any firearm.

        • I didn’t say it was a prerequisite, you are putting words in my mouth. I said it’s common sense. If one is planning out to murder someone I don’t think one would decide to taze them, handcuff them and then strangle them. We could suppose that one might, but common sense says that one would choose the efficient method of shooting them.

          The victims were handcuffed and “Their legs were bound with rope and they were tied to a staircase. Richardson also had a rope and electrical cord wrapped around his neck. The rope went from his neck to a double pulley hanging from an eyebolt screwed into one of the ceiling rafters, “ according to the article. Why would he go through such a rigamarole to commit a murder. This suggests that he was tying them up so that they couldn’t move or escape until someone found them, giving him lots of time to get away unnoticed. Again, use your common sense, I’m suggesting that this doesn’t fit with a premeditated murder scenario.

          I’m not saying it wasn’t premeditated, I’m just saying that we don’t know. And I will add that I think it is totally irresponsible of Kym to say in her headline that it was.

          • Actually, Anne, that has been bothering me, too. I just added a question mark to the title. Thanks for adding the last weight to my questioning myself and tip me into making the change.

          • I think you’ve raised some reasonable questions here, and I agree that the purchase of the restraints is not, in an of itself, evidence of premeditation to commit murder.

            But I’m less convinced by the argument that “common sense” would dictate the use of a firearm. There are several common sense reasons why someone might choose to avoid using a firearm. One is that first you have to obtain one. And despite the prevalence of guns in this country, not everyone has one at their fingertips. For example, if I decided tonight that I needed to get my hands on a handgun, I really don’t know where I would get one. I don’t own one, and I don’t know anyone who has one who would be foolish enough to loan it out.

            Another common-sense issue is that the gun would need to be disposed of after the murder, and as we know guns are very often used to tie the suspect to the murder through ballistics, fingerprints, and other types of forensic science. And lastly, guns make noise whereas some other methods of killing are much quieter.

            Again, I do agree with your overall point that the info about the purchase of the items used to restrain the victims is not really evidence of premeditation to commit murder, and might fit in just as well (or perhaps better) with a scenario that involved premeditation to commit some kind of kidnapping / hostage-taking / robbery.

            One last point: The fact that a murderer’s actions may not show
            “common sense” should not be surprising — it seems to me that by the point where you’ve decided to murder someone, “common sense” has pretty much gone by the wayside. And indeed, the ways that people go about killing other people are surprisingly varied and not always the easiest, most efficient way.

  • We have to add the facts up, the murderer was in Oregon buying items he used during the murders, a jury will look at the purchase of handcuffs and use of same, as evidence of pre-planning, also he was known to the victims, another motive to kill. We can only wonder what the conversation was between the deputy and the Gunds as we have no taped call and two versions of the call. The victim/s were seen not alive according to Mr. Gund who saw a “body” with a bag over the head. This person was obviously dead from the reading of the story. When the Gund’s fought off the murderer he didn’t have much time to kill as the Gunds fled, I would think to get help and arm themselves, people from the store quickly arrived armed at the house to find the killer gone. The case of the Gunds and what happened is one of the most shocking stories I have read in years, but if I thought I could save a neighbor and the Sheriff called me, I would arm myself and try to do what I could. I wish the Gund’s had been armed and ready for this killer.

  • We have to add the facts up, the murderer was in Oregon buying items he used during the murders, a jury will look at the purchase of handcuffs and use of same, as evidence of pre-planning, also he was known to the victims, another motive to kill. We can only wonder what the conversation was between the deputy and the Gunds as we have no taped call and two versions of the call. The victim/s were seen not alive according to Mr. Gund who saw a “body” with a bag over the head. This person was obviously dead from the reading of the story. When the Gund’s fought off the murderer he didn’t have much time to kill as the Gunds fled, I would think to get help and arm themselves, people from the store quickly arrived armed at the house to find the killer gone. The case of the Gunds and what happened is one of the most shocking stories I have read in years, but if I thought I could save a neighbor and the Sheriff called me, I would arm myself and try to do what I could. I wish the Gund’s had been armed and ready for this killer.

  • The armed citizen has prevented a lot of crimes and will continue to. The unarmed citizen will continue to be victimized by the criminal element with guns.

  • The armed citizen has prevented a lot of crimes and will continue to. The unarmed citizen will continue to be victimized by the criminal element with guns.

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