3.20.2010

TS - Eleven died at the hands of others in Humboldt County in 2009

Eleven died at the hands of others in Humboldt County in 2009
Homicides in Humboldt County were up in 2009, nearly doubling last year's total, tallying enough to become the highest since 2002.

There were 11 people killed by others in the county this year, with six last year.

”We're seeing it in all different walks and all different ages,” said Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris.

Parris said a possible reason for the rise in killings might be the state of the economy and nation.

”There's a lot of stress in life right now,” Parris said.

In 2007 there were five homicides, eight in 2006 and four in 2005. The highest number of homicides in recent history was 14 in 1999.

Four of this year's killings have no arrests or suspects named and in only one case has there been any convictions.
In two of the cases, the suspect was arrested while driving the victim's vehicle.

On Feb. 6, Andrew Pease, 26, was allegedly killed by John Lewis Way, 30, and James Robert Stanko, 26, at the conclusion of their alleged attempted robbery spree. They are accused of five attempted robberies in less than a half hour and stabbing Pease to death in the Ray's Food Place parking lot on Broadway. Both men have trials scheduled to start in 2010 -- Way in March and Stanko in February.

On Feb. 24, Ezra Sanders was the victim of a botched robbery and was found dead of a single gunshot wound in his driveway shortly after 1 a.m. A total of four people were arrested in connection to Sanders' killing.

In August, Ruben Anthony Peredia, 32, of Eureka, and Lukus Larry Mace, 31, of Orleans, entered guilty pleas to voluntary manslaughter. Peredia was sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison. Mace made a plea agreement to testify against his codefendants and after all the cases are adjudicated will be sentenced to six years in prison.

Earlier this month, Jeffrey Alan Burgess, 39, of Eureka, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery with special allegations that include acting in concert with two or more persons and personally discharging a firearm during the commission of a felony. He faces 30 years in prison when he's sentenced Jan. 12. Tracey Joleen Williams, 35, of Eureka, has a trial scheduled to start Jan. 4.

The next killing apparently occurred as the result of a marijuana deal that went wrong.

David Fields, 21, was allegedly killed by his robbery partner when the two crashed while being pursued by deputies and officers who they allegedly fired at on May 12.

Brian Fiore, 19, of Antioch, reportedly tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the head after he allegedly killed Fields.

The two men met a group of six others at an intersection in McKinleyville and reportedly pulled out guns and robbed the men of 14 pounds of marijuana. The chase then began, ending with the crash on State Route 299. Fiore is scheduled to be in court Jan. 27 for an intervention hearing.

On June 16, a quarrel between brothers turned deadly when Roy Lee Stevens, 60, allegedly shot and killed Ted Kilston Stevens, 49, at the older brother's Indianola home. Roy Lee Stevens, who was arrested at the scene, is scheduled to be in court Jan. 25 for a pretrial hearing.

Less than a week later, Brad Masten, 45, was seen in an altercation with several people on the side of Broadway. When officers responded they found Masten with head injuries, but he denied being in a fight. He was taken to the hospital and then transferred to Redding, where he died June 23.

Parris, Humboldt County's coroner, said this week that investigators have yet to find any suspects.

The remains of a woman last seen in 2007 were found on property near Hookton and Old Indianola roads Aug. 30.

Stephanie Fowler, 34, of Loleta, was a mother of six and was last seen getting into a white car on Eel River Drive in Loleta. Her remains were taken to Los Angeles where they were examined by a forensic anthropologist. A cause of death was determined after the examination, but because the case is still being investigated, the Sheriff's Office is not releasing the cause.

”The detectives are still actively and aggressively pursuing leads and are confident that they will have a positive conclusion to this case,” said Humboldt County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Brenda Godsey.

About a week after Fowler's remains were found, William John Lundy, 59, was found dead in his Trinidad home.

Donny Ray Best, 52, was arrested Sept. 5, the same day the body was found, after he led Kansas police on a high-speed chase in Lundy's car. Lundy's cause of death was a gunshot wound.

Best was returned to Humboldt County and will next be in court Jan. 13 for a trial confirmation hearing.

The man accused of killing 30-year-old Nicholas Montoya, whose body was found Sept. 10 on property near Red Rock Road in Hoopa, is next scheduled to be in court for an intervention hearing Jan. 14. Rodney Allen Donahue Jr., 23, of Hoopa, was found driving Montoya's pickup truck.

Donahue was initially arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, impersonating another person, giving false identification to a peace officer and driving on a suspended license. He was eventually also charged with murder, personally discharging a firearm resulting in the death of another and murder committed in the commission of flight following a robbery.

The body of Michael Anthony Borcalli, aka Michael Dragon, 44, was found by someone walking their dog near a trail in the greenbelt at M Street between 15th and 17th streets on Oct. 11. William Harold Wright, 24, turned himself in to the Eureka Police Department the next day and has since been charged with manslaughter. Borcalli was found dead from multiple stab wounds. Wright will next be in court Jan. 12 for an intervention hearing.

Robert Van Alstine, 30, died from stab wounds he received in Fields Landing Nov. 17. In the early morning he arrived at the door of a local business asking for help with obvious signs that he was injured. When medical personnel arrived, he was slumped over in the doorway and died at the hospital a short time later. Godsey said detectives have two suspects in the case, though they have yet to identify them publicly. Surveillance footage from the area has been examined, Godsey said, and warrants on items like cell phones have also been served.

On Dec. 13, passersby found the body of David Earl Sanford, 47, on a bar along the Mad River.

The transient was believed to have been living in a nearby tent and investigators are looking for anyone with information on his death.