Homicides in Humboldt: This Year on Pace to Equal Record Highs of Last Two Years

In 2014, Humboldt residents were horrified by a record 16 homicides. In 2015, the 15 homicides that occurred were only marginally better. From the 1980’s until 2014, there were approximately eight homicides per year with occasional spikes as high as 14. The former peak was in 1988 with 15 homicides.

The most recent rise of homicides began in 2013 with 11 deaths at the hands of another. Now with ten homicides having occurred already this year, Humboldt seems well on its way to equalling the records set during these last two years.


Below is a recap of those who died and their stories.

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.

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


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.”

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:

Kiya Kitchen

Kiya Kitchen

6&7) Deceased: Faith Tsarnas and Kiya Kitchen, both age 14

Summary: On July 12 a little after 9 p.m. the two teenage girls who had been skateboarding on Eel River Drive near Fortuna were struck by a hit and run driver. A suspect vehicle was later located at the residence of Kiya Kitchen’s mother.

Links to earlier stories:

8) 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 shot himself but eventually it was determined that an unknown person had shot him.

Links to earlier stories:

9) 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.

Links to earlier stories:

10) 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. Note: Not all homicides are considered a crime. It is the term for the killing of one human being by another. Fulton’s death was included on the list of homicides this year provided to us by the Sheriff’s Department.

David Fulton

David Fulton

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

Links to earlier stories:



  • Sad commentary…

  • Remember when that guy ran over the school teacher and the dog and two ladies jogging they found the car they found the guys he’s in prison what the hell where’s Margie kitchen.

    • My guess is law enforcement doesn’t have a good enough case to put her behind the wheel. She’s lawyered up and keeping mum and I don’t believe there were any witnesses to the actual collision.

      • AnonymousHumboldtian

        That whole Kiya Kitchen situation is just extremely sad all around. Even if the person at fault is brought to justice, it won’t be a satisfying victory for anyone involved. Compiling a list of all the names of the people killed this year really puts things into perspective. So many people taken from this earth so suddenly and senselessly. Reading this article made me very sad.

        • Would be more satisfying for her to be in jail for her crime…I Do not see justice when Two girls are dead .and The mother that did it is walking free..She needs to be held accountable..Period .

      • @Reality first – There’s no way they don’t have enough evidence to put her behind the wheel. They found the car (murder weapon) at her residence. I’m sure they could pull finger prints off the steering wheel or anywhere on the car that would show up as hers. Just because there was no witnesses doesn’t mean they can’t use the evidence they have. I’m sure some people are in jail for murder with a whole lot less evidence that they did it then that. And lastly, think it’s kind of sad that there’s never much about the other girl that died that night, just mainly about the girl who’s mom is responsible.

        • I agree with you. They have the car, cellphone records, statements of the guy who was at their house, the driver who called 911 said “she drove off.” There’s plenty of circumstantial evidence, but then I’m not a lawyer… The question they’re stalling on might be what to charge the boyfriend with? Is the lesson to just run and hide; lawyer up and not take responsibility for one’s actions?

          • Henchman Of Justice

            Yes, that is the lesson she learned after all those other local examples of rural lifestyle “hit and run and hide” and then later, turn yourself in…….it works well, apparantly.

      • Henchman Of Justice

        Ya, that was seered the day following the accident by a certain intellectual thinking blogger, then a comment was archived onto Kym’s thread following the story at that time.

        Sheesh, the mere facts early on elicited the lawyer/mumness probability…..and then the discovery of the vehicle came a couple days later…….. then the herd conspiracy theories…….damn, no matter what happens after the fact, the victims will never get justice, never!

    • Honeydew Bridge Chump

      Flagging your posts on Craig’s?

  • What is the deal with the teen hit n run? Why hasn’t there been more info on suspects?

  • What about the plane crash victims? or the hitch hiker truck crash guy or other vehicle crash deaths this year? Aren’t they considered “homicides ” if the suicide by cop guy is?

    • I am not an attorney but here’s what I think:
      The plane crash appears to be mechanical failure not human caused. http://kymkemp.com/2016/08/10/national-transportation-safety-board-releases-preliminary-information-on-the-cal-ore-life-flight-that-crashed-in-july/
      The hitchhiker’s death is considered vehicular manslaughter http://kymkemp.com/2016/06/18/hitchhiker-victim-of-hwy-299-accident/. His death was a byproduct of an accident as are any of the other vehicle deaths this year. The deaths of Kiya and Faith, however, were hit and runs.

      • I see ur point but don’t understand the suicide by cop being a murder according too sheriff? Not fair to the cops or the law suits coming the county’s way because of it being listed as a “murder” . Thanks for all ur work explaining people’s questions.

        • It’s classified as a homicide ~ meaning a death at the hand of another. Homicide isn’t equal to a murder/manslaughter charge. I BELIEVE it is the coroner who makes the designation of homicide and up to the charging entity to level appropriate charges.

          • Yea–whatever the language/criminal statute/penal code says–it’s considered a homicide simply because it’s an OPEN and SHUT case. this is why most rape/scary violent crimes, home invasion, etc convictions that require WORK are a fraction of drug possession cases (where all you gotta do is stick your hand in a sick, desperate, broke, beat-to-the-ground-by-life persons pocket). stats are what government agencies live off. The Stats are next years Bread and Butter. then you consistently go over budget to assure more funding next year and… how can you have a real conversation about any of this.. maybe i’m an idiot but I find it impossible. Drumf (however his shits spelled) and Shillary?? I’m even starting to question evolution…

            • Check out Jill Stein. The combined Republicrats and Democans poll 63% “unsatisfactory” choices. Election fraud and the Electoral College not withstanding, a third choice has every chance of success. Really. af

              • Stein isn’t the one I would turn to for individual rights in a sovereign nation. She is a one world government, with environmentalism as top priority.

      • Henchman Of Justice

        Wait, clarification points:

        1) Homicide versus manslaughter

        A. What evidence determines homicide versus manslaughter in two girls’ death? (The fact of it being a hit and run makes it a more evil scenario, but homicide? – was it an intentional running down by a pissed off mom or a drugged out state or just head up ass or some other nonsensical reason? We don’t know all the “inner facts yet”)

        B. There is no such thing as an accident while operating a car when mother nature was not the cause (lighting strike, earthquakes, other instantaneous events that are jolting)

        The idea that merely leaving the scene of an accident “raises the criminal charge from manslaughter to homicide” is not justifiable, even though it is inhumane, evil, etc….

        But, maybe investigators determined had the driver not ran, a life would have been saved due to quicker emt response times……

        Curious on fact cleansings.

  • A couple years have passed but I’m still hurting from the senseless murder of our beloved priest, Father Eric Freed, who was so callously taken from us at the hands of Sohum Scum Bullock. ALL of these homicides are tragic, unnecessary, & very, very sad for family & friends who loved them.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Ya, and the bullshit attempts to blame murder on memtal health issues instead of the killer being tabbed simply as a piece of shit who had “no reason” to kill a pastor other than psycho babble after the fact that called into question the practice of catch and release by local popopeace, but doughnuts were being served hot and tasty that day because the DHHS was the sponsoring agency for the commemorating ceremonies of the celebration of humboldt county law enforcement month.

      That murder was preventable, but once let loose on the street, anyone can say anything after the fact……….

  • J. Worthingham Fatback

    Kym, why all of the dancing around as to info on the Kitchen case? Have YOU been told to stay away by any LEO personnel, or is it just on the CHP for lack of coming forth as developments occur? Have any other news outlets you’re aware of been told to keep quiet on this matter?

    If it’s the CHP, they are not making me believe that the integrity of the case depends on them playing dumb. Or coy!

  • Get those CSI guys that are on TV they will solve the case LOL

  • Black tail addict

    So whats going on with hit and run mom?

  • Our poor little town.i feel so heart broken.its not the same anymore.to much crime.to many overdoses,murder.i feel selfish because I’m worried about our town and I know there’s horrible things going on else where.i see things all the world and say,wow I’m glad that’s not us.i know it could be worse,but for here it already is and I live here

    • I agree, G-ma. There’s not much we can do it seems– but there is one small thing I do when this ugly stuff happens.

      I get out into our community and do 2 or 3 nice little things for others who need it. Find out what they need. Raise folks’ spirits, let them know they’re not alone, help out as I can. I talk to them, listen to their problems and hear their small complaints. Give them a kind word or sincere compliment, where and when it’s especially needed. Mysteriously leave flowers or baked goodies or a fruit basket on their porch. Help stack firewood when their load arrives. Help build a fence or paint a shed. Employ a neighbor whose family needs to eat. Drop off something cool to drink or good to eat for someone who I see is working to improve things for the better. If I know of a neighbor who needs to cut his pasture and another neighbor who has cutting/baling equipment to make it easier, I get them together.

      I know this sounds a bit corny and cheesy and we can’t change the world– but we can at least send out a little positive ripple across the big pond. If enough of us did this and we made many of those small ripples, well, all those ripples can add up to a really big deal. Even if this doesn’t sound realistic on the whole, I know it brightens up my day and helps my/our corner of the community.

      While not a foolproof thing by any means, I believe that generally good things happen to good people who make good choices and do good things. We must try. It’s the best we can do. For ourselves, our families, our friends and our community. Especially, especially, when these bad things happen around us.

      • First of all, well said. Second of all, would you please consider sending this in signed as a letter to the editor. We could all use a reminder of things that are in our power to do to make a change.

  • There’s still magic in these mountains. Coast is awesome, too.

  • One murder is one too many. R.I.P. Dear Souls.
    Out of curiosity, what percentage is this? Counting the grows & the homeless in every area a murder took place. One murder per 4000 growers & 500 homeless would equal a percentage. But I don’t know the numbers for the math. Calculated per area, then all areas calculated together would provide us with what percentages?

    Also, what were the murder rates back before C.A.M.P. began it’s PR campaign? I still remember reading about million dollar bushes being chopped & burned. The call of the transients, they called it.

    • AnonymousHumboldtian

      Why do homicides have to be tied to growers or the homeless? Not every bad thing in the world has something to do with marijuana.

      • It doesn’t, except politically for tax & regulatory gouging. Staying ahead of the curve is respectable, before the next politician yells about pot or whatever control.

  • As will overdoses..
    Blood on the hands of the only help in town.. folks stick around the 12 step rooms 10 years and see 100 plus people come in and go right back out, several go on to die in short order.. *in short order after desperately seeking help* and the theory is= somethings wrong with the other 90%.. I’m hoping Robin Williams autopsy might open a few minds. I’m sure he heard plenty of “go to a meeting, you’ll be alright(s)”
    On the flip side there are SOOOO many wonderful people round these hills doing what they can.. my friend with the halfway house for ex-cons at his ranch in the hills.. and another exciting option in the works..
    Fuck the weed (not really, I love it) but whatever way all that goes we’re still gonna be left with some of the smartest, out-the-box thinkin, DIY’er, community minded folks around …anywhere

  • I would like to see a list of who is missing. Not just in 2016, all of them.
    Mendocinco Sheriff’s web page has a list w/ photos. Why can’t Humboldt sheriff’s office do this?
    (My guess they don’t want outside investors and tourist to know how many go missing.)

  • Kym,
    We still do not know the identity of the body found in the Eel River on May 15th? That sounds crazy, how do they not know who that was after almost 4 months? Any missing person reports that match up?


    • There were no matching missing person reports back in May when I last spoke to the Coroner. When I spoke to Selena Zorilla-Mendoza, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, last week she said they had no new information. This could mean none they were willing to release or, most likely, they have not got results back from DNA (it can take a while) or even that they’ve got the results back and there wasn’t a match.

      • Thanks Kym, you are doing a great job and a service to the community with your reporting.

        Is there a way to search through the Humboldt County missing person reports historically, seems like over the years there has been many of those that are unsolved still, and bodies found that are not identified.

        Any help appreciated to get to a real indicator of who is missing and bodies not identified.


        • Bill, unfortunately, the system for indexing missing person reports mostly seems to exist on card files last time I checked (a couple years ago). It isn’t uploaded into a computer. I wonder if a service club would consider helping input the information.

          Nonetheless, this skeleton is believed to have come from a fairly recent death and as such should have been easy to match if there was a match to be made. There doesn’t appear to have been a connection.

          • I’d bet whatever change is in my Savings right now:

            1. missing persons is still reported and kept using the card catalogue system circa 1970
            2. one-probably part time officer on reprimand-comprises the missing persons dept.
            3. they probably do however have their own voice-mail box.. so thats something…

            The Hit-and-Run would be very difficult to prove. Without eyeball wit to place her behind the wheel at the time.. and even then eyeball better have a clean record or be a Nun in whitethorn..She lawyered up.. no new info cause there’s no way to move the investigation further.

  • So much violence, so much pain. When will we learn this world’s insane. Only one way to win this game, listen to love and know (y)our Name.

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