Fugitive Suspect in Laytonville Homicide Surrenders to US Officials at Mexico Border Where He’d Been Hiding
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 11-11-2016 at 3:39 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were summoned to a reported man who had been murdered on a remote property located in the 49000 block of North Highway 101 in Laytonville, California.
The property was a rural parcel approximately 5 miles from Highway 101, on a dirt road that traveled in a westerly direction. Deputies responded to the scene confirming there was a male adult who was obviously deceased as a result of what appeared to be a violent assault.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives were summoned to the scene, along with Investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office and Criminalists from the California Department of Justice. During the investigation it was determined the deceased male adult, Jeffrey Quinn Settler, was operating a commercial marijuana growing operation on the property.
In the early morning hours of 11-11-2016 (Thursday), multiple subjects who had been recently employed by Settler as marijuana trimmers returned to the property in the middle of the night with the intent to commit robbery of processed marijuana. The investigation has revealed the subjects knew the marijuana was stored in the same structure where Settler slept and the subjects violently assaulted him during the robbery, causing his death. The subjects were believed to have fled the property in at least two vehicles and were believed to have stolen over 100 pounds of processed marijuana. The suspects were believed to have fled to Southern California or out of state.
In all seven suspects were identified and subsequent felony arrest warrants were sought. Three of the seven suspects have been arrested and are currently being prosecuted for homicide and robbery. On 01-16-17, Suspect Michael Andrew Kane of Pleasantville New York, surrendered to Customs and Border Patrol at the California Mexico Border on a felony warrant for homicide in this case. Kane had been a fugitive in Mexico, when he contacted his family and advised he was “tired of running” and wanted to surrender. His arrest was facilitated through the US Marshals Office and the US Border Patrol.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives responded to San Diego to interview Kane where he was being held. Currently three suspects are still at large and are believed to have fled the state of California. The remaining suspects are identified as Frederick Gaestel, 27, of Illinois,
Gary Blank III, 34, of Garberville,
and Jesse Wells, 33, of Laytonville.
[UPDATE from MCSO: **CORRECTION**, Gary Lynn Fitzgerald, 23 years of age, out of Roanoke IL, is currently in custody. He surrendered to custody on 11/23/2016 at the Mendocino County Jail.]
Any persons with information about the location of the outstanding suspects are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Unit at 707-463-4421 or the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 707-234-2100.
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