Kitchen is the registered owner of the Jeep involved in the collision. The CHP say they have made multiple attempts to contact the couple but they “have not made themselves to investigators and their whereabouts are unknown.”
In its press release, the CHP confirmed that Kitchen’s attorney, Benjamin Okin, made contact with law enforcement after the Jeep’s discovery. The 2015 grey Jeep Wrangler was found behind a gate in a fenced backyard in Kitchen’s home, just down the road from where her 14-year old daughter and her daughter’s friend were struck and killed.
The California Highway Patrol has located the grey Jeep believed to have been involved in a hit and run accident Tuesday night
that left two teenage girls dead. The vehicle was found behind a closed fence in the backyard of the residence of one of the victim’s families when police served a search warrant on the property yesterday afternoon.
CHP officer Cy May said a suspect has been identified as the potential driver in the case but remains at large, whereabouts unknown. May said CHP is not releasing the identity of the suspect at this time, and declined to comment on whether the suspect is related to one of the victims. CHP is also declining to release the identities or ages of the victims at this time.
Eureka Attorney Ben Okin, reached by phone this morning, said he is representing the suspect in the case and that, through him, she made contact with police yesterday. "We made contact with law enforcement," Okin said. "They didn't know who she was. We made contact with them. ... As far as I know, at the time we made contact on the driver's behalf, law enforcement didn't have any information on the identity of the driver. That (call) is what led to them being able to serve the search warrant. It wasn't something they discovered, as far as I know."
"We offered to turn the driver in," Okin continued, "but law enforcement wants to do some more investigation before they make a formal arrest."
Okin declined to identify his client, saying he's "leaving it to law enforcement to decide the appropriate time to do that" as their investigation moves forward.
The accident occurred around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, when a southbound vehicle on Eel River Drive hit two young teenagers who were skateboarding northbound in the southbound lane. The vehicle then fled the scene, reportedly heading eastbound on Drake Hill Road, according to CHP's initial press release. The vehicle CHP found and seized yesterday was in a backyard on Becker Lane, which is off Eel River Drive, south from Drake Hill Road and about a mile from the accident scene.
May said it was a combination of community tips and investigators in the field that led CHP to the Becker Lane residence. He said nobody was at the home when police arrived, but officers were able to obtain a search warrant for the property in order to seize the vehicle, which was found behind a closed fence in the backyard and had damage matching wreckage found at the accident scene.
“It’s still an active investigation and we’re still putting the pieces together,” May said, adding that he’s grateful to community members who have stepped forward to aid the investigation, both in reporting the initial crash and then helping investigators locate the vehicle involved.
Editor's note: This story was updated from a previous version to more accurately reflect where the Jeep was found on the Becker Lane property.
The California Highway Patrol has released the names of two persons of interest in last week’s fatal hit-and-run. Marcia Maelinda Kitchen, mother of one of the deceased, and Joshua Wren Pearlston, her boyfriend, are both being sought for questioning.