3.08.2009

The homicides of 2008

☛ TS The homicides of 2008 12/31/08
Sean Garmire/The Times-Standard
Posted: 12/31/2008 01:27:46 AM PST

The first death ruled a homicide in 2008 in Humboldt County was 61-year-old George Giguere.
His close friend and longtime roommate, and the only suspect in the case, was arrested May 22 for his murder. Investigators with the Eureka Police Department believe Rodney Groh fought with Giguere in a Budget Hotel room in which the two men were living. According to records at the Humboldt County Superior Court, investigators believe Groh allegedly killed Giguere in the fight, by beating him to death.
Groh has pleaded not guilty.
In testimony given at Groh's preliminary hearing, EPD Detective Patrick O'Neill said throughout his interviews with Groh he maintained that “he and George were good friends, and they loved each other, and they looked out for each other and they cared for each other.”
According to O'Neill's testimony, Groh told him the two had been friends for more than 13 years, and lived together for 11 years. The fight was said to have been caused by a dispute over the television.
In early September, a murder suicide ended the life of an elderly couple in Eureka.
Investigators believe 82-year-old Leon Taylor shot his wife Beatrice Taylor, 82, with a hand gun while they sat in their car following an argument. Leon Taylor then allegedly turned the gun on himself.
No note was found at the scene, and no explanation or motive for the shootings has been released by authorities.
Later in September, 35-year-old
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Reetpaul Singh Rana was found shot to death in Alderpoint.
Authorities have released little information about Rana's death, but according to information from Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Brenda Godsey, the murder appears to have been related to marijuana.
Rana's body was found in a wooded area nearly 100 miles from the burned remains of his vehicle, parked along the north side of Big Lagoon.
Authorities continue to investigate the matter, and no suspects have yet been arrested.
In October, a Fortuna woman was found strangled to death near a transient encampment along the banks of the Eel river.
Investigators believe Rosemarie Boyd, 48, had been drinking with a man along the riverbank in the night, and a toxicology report showed her blood alcohol level was 0.29 percent.
Godsey confirmed suspects have been identified and interviewed, but no arrests have been made in the case.
”There are a lot of other people who camped up and down that river bar during that time frame,” she said. “It doesn't make sense to make an arrest without first making sure that you have a good case.”
In early December, a 27-year-old man was shot to death in his home.
Garrett Benson, a UPS driver and former National Guard member who served overseas, was shot and killed, while his girlfriend, Rachel Wold, was in the same room.
According to information from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, Benson had a large amount of marijuana growing and processed in the residence, which is a likely motive for the murder.
After nearly a week, two suspects were arrested -- 30-year-old Jonathan Watson and 31-year-old Jason Belles. According to Godsey, authorities believe Watson entered the home and attempted to restrain Benson, causing him to fight back.
He was shot three times during the struggle.
Both suspects have pleaded not guilty in the case.
Other people have lost their lives in 2008 as a result of the alleged negligence of others. However, their deaths are not included in the county's homicide count. People like 9-year-old Nicole Quigley, who was killed in a car wreck that resulted from a impromptu race held along State Route 299 on Oct. 6 -- her death is not counted in the total, because, as there was no intent to kill, her death was ruled accidental.
Nevertheless, Jason Whitmill and Anthony Flores have been charged by the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office with first-degree murder in connection to her death.
Additionally, the body of 14-year-old Curtis Huntzinger was discovered in December after 18 years of searching. That find allowed the Huntzinger family to properly bury their family member, and gave authorities additional evidence to arrest Stephen Hash on suspicion of murder.
Hash initially pleaded guilty at his arraignment, but has since been appointed an attorney, and has not yet formally entered a guilty plea.
The Huntzinger find added an additional homicide to the county.
Sean Garmire can be reached at 441-0514 or sgarmire@times-standard.com.