Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Three Homicide Victims over Weekend

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 5:15 PM

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The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating three homicide cases this week after two men were discovered dead at a large marijuana grow operation near Hyampom and an August robbery victim died of his gunshot wounds over the holiday weekend.

Deputies were called out to the Hyampom scene by the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, which was determined to be just within the Humboldt County limits.

“We’re still investigating the incident and the investigation, at this point, leads us to multiple assailants,” sheriff’s office Public Information Officer Selena Zorrilla-Mendoza said.

The sheriff’s office also identified Dana Hudson, 44, as the victim of an armed robbery in Willow Creek in August. He died Monday from “multiple complications from gunshot wounds,” according to a news release.

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:


On Sunday, September 4, 2016 at approximately 11:30 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report from the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) regarding a double homicide. Deputies responded to the incident location, a residence on US Forest Service Road 3N14 South Fork Mountain in Hyampom.

Deputies met with TCSO Deputies and were told two male adults were deceased in the residence.

Deputies located several living structures and large marijuana grow sites throughout the property. HCSO Detectives responded to investigate the homicides. The investigation at this time indicates multiple assailants. Additional suspect information will be released accordingly.

The Drug Enforcement Unit obtained a search warrant for the marijuana grows on site. The search warrant was served and revealed another marijuana grow on a neighboring property. A search warrant was obtained for the neighboring property and served on Monday, September 5th.

Autopsies will be performed on Tuesday, September 6th. Names of the victims will be released after next of kin has been notified.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Peterson at 707-268-3663 or the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251.

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

On Monday, September 5, 2016 the victim from the armed robbery shooting passed away. The victim has been identified as 44 year old Dana Hudson. Hudson died from multiple complications from gunshot wounds.

This case is now being investigated as a homicide.

Previous press release: On 08-12-2016 at 11:50 a.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery that just occurred off Sabretooth Road, Willow Creek. It was reported to the Sheriff’s Office that approximately 2- 3 male suspects took the victim’s yellow pickup truck. While deputies were responding to the scene they received information that a male victim had been shot.

The male victim is currently being airlifted to an out of the area hospital. At this time unknown condition on the male victim. Sheriff Deputies are currently securing the scene. Detectives have been called out to take over the investigation

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Pedestrian Killed in Alleged DUI Crash

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 9:27 AM



A 24-year-old Arcata man is behind bars after an alleged DUI accident left a pedestrian dead yesterday evening.

According to Arcata police, officers responded to a report of the crash around 7:15 p.m. and arrived at 14th and H streets to find a 55-year-old man dying in the street. The vehicle allegedly involved in the accident was parked on H Street, according to the release, and the driver was identified as 24-year-old Robert Willard Bergeson III.

Officers determined Bergeson was under the influence of alcohol, according to the press release, and arrested him on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury.

The victim’s name is behind withheld until officials can notify family of his death. The collision remains under investigation and APD asks anyone with information to contact the Arcata Police Department at 822-2428.

See the full APD press release copied below:

On September 4, 2016 at about 7:15 PM, the Arcata Police Department received a 9-1-1 telephone call regarding a vehicle versus pedestrian traffic collision at the intersection of 14th Street and H Street.
Upon APD’s arrival, a 55 year-old male pedestrian was located on H Street with injuries sustained as a result of being stuck by a vehicle. Life-saving efforts were attempted, but the male victim was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The motor vehicle involved in the collision with the pedestrian was located parked on H Street. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Robert Willard Bergeson III, 24 years old of Arcata. Bergeson was determined to be under the influence of alcoholic and was arrested.
The identity of the victim will be release by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office once next of kin notifications have been made.
Bergeson was booked into the Humboldt County Jail for the following violations:
1 Penal Code 191.5(a) Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
2 Vehicle Code 23153(a)(b) Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs Causing injury.
The traffic collision is under investigation and anyone that may have witnessed the collision or has information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Arcata Police Department at 822-2428.


Editor's note: This post was updated from a previous version that included an incorrect Google map of the location of the accident.
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Sunday, September 4, 2016

HumBug: Missing Giants

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2016 at 3:00 PM

This moth is still a mystery, too. Anyone? - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • This moth is still a mystery, too. Anyone?
The last couple of nights I've been running an experiment to answer a question. When I was a kid, I could leave the porch light on almost any night and there'd be a bunch of insects around it in an hour or so. Lately, I've been noticing that there don't seem to be nearly as many, and several of the really big ones I used to see are missing. The Ceanothus moth, giant waterbug and giant cranefly, to name three. I decided to set up my own little light trap. Resurrecting some old Coleman lanterns and a white sheet, I cobbled it together. While none of the big three made an appearance, the lights did attract a few moderate sized moths, a termite and an ichneumon.
A flying termite. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A flying termite.
I did this because there is an ongoing and disturbing current in the online entomological chatter. Apparently insect populations the world over are falling, and it's not just the bad ones humankind has been battling for as long as there has been a humankind, or the big names like honeybees and monarch butterflies. There seems to be an overall decline in the numbers and diversity in the arthropod world.
A DIY light trap. Bugs come and go as they please and the 10-pound hammer is only for self defense. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A DIY light trap. Bugs come and go as they please and the 10-pound hammer is only for self defense.
This rosy beauty is yet unidentified. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • This rosy beauty is yet unidentified.
So I decided to check things out in my own backyard. Yes, despite my best efforts I have yet to attract anything like the numbers I used to see 50+ years ago. And no, this is not a clean well documented scientific experiment because I did not foresee the need to take data on it when I was a kid. It is at best anecdotal evidence but it is enough to give me pause.
A giant lacewing on my front windowsill. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A giant lacewing on my front windowsill.
The afternoon after writing the above, I returned from town only to find a large winged insect on my window frame. At first I thought it might be a cicada but on closer inspection it was shaped all wrong. I took several photos before it just fluttered off and was gone. It turns out to be a giant lacewing (family polystoechotidae). Listed as “rare” in the second edition of American Insects, A Handbook of the Insects of North America North of Mexico. So after setting up a trap in my backyard and staying up past midnight several nights in a row, I find a rare “giant insect” attracted to the wrong side of my house in the daytime. Sometimes I think Mother Nature pokes fun at me.


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DHHS Wants You (to Foster Parent)

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2016 at 11:39 AM



The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services is desperately seeking some good homes looking to make a difference.

Humboldt County has nearly double the state rate of children in foster care —1.2 percent of children ages 0-17 compared to .68 percent statewide, according to Kidsdata.org — and the high rates have been stretching the system. While there’s no single factor that explains why our local rates are so high, officials say it’s not a surprise given Humboldt’s preponderance of substance abuse and poverty.

DHHS is looking for foster homes for kids of all ages, but the department is especially in need of people willing to take in teenagers.

“Older kids coming into care can be just as scared and shut down as the little ones,” said Michele Stephens, deputy director of Child Welfare Services for DHHS, in a statement emailed to the Journal. “They’ve experienced some form of trauma and as a result sometimes act out as a way of coping. We need caregivers who understand this and are willing to provide safe and supportive homes for teens.”
 
Helping young people transition into adulthood is another role foster parents can play, Stephens added. “Youth in foster care don’t often have the opportunities to learn basic life skills other kids are taught at home — how to balance a checkbook, find an apartment, apply to college, find a job,” he said.

DHHS is looking for caregivers who can teach these skills in a home setting and in an effort to stir up more interest in fostering, the department recently hired Malcolm DeSoto and his Runaway Kite film company to create the eight-minute documentary embedded above. Be warned, watching it may make you want to immediately foster 17 children.



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Friday, September 2, 2016

Arcata Woman Arrested for Assault, Death of Child

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 11:21 AM

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Arcata police arrested Ewa Misztal, a 28-year-old Polish national, for the death and alleged assault of her 2-month-old daughter. According to Arcata Police Sgt. Todd Dockweiler, officers responded to a  call of an "unresponsive child" on the 400 block of Union Street at around 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 27.

"The child was transported to Mad River, where she was ultimately pronounced deceased," said Dockweiler. "During the subsequent investigation, details were discovered that led officers to ultimately make an arrest of the child’s mother and she was booked into the Humboldt County jail that afternoon."

Deputy District Attorney Brie Bennett confirmed Misztal is currently in custody and facing one count of Penal Code 273ab (assault on a child causing death). Misztal faces 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.
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Feds Find Improper Care After Fisher Death at HSU

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 10:10 AM

A resting female fisher in the wild. - HOOPA VALLEY TRIBE, REBECCA GREEN
  • Hoopa Valley Tribe, Rebecca Green
  • A resting female fisher in the wild.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently found that Humboldt State University failed to follow laboratory protocols as staff observed the declining health of a dying fisher for nearly a week without calling a veterinarian.

The routine inspection report dated Aug. 3 includes a daily log kept by the animal’s caretakers in the days before the fisher, a rare member of the weasel family, was found dead in its cage:

4/25/16 - "fisher bald patches larger than I last observed, bald patch on belly as well now"

4/26/16 - "fisher appeared to be heaving/retching after exiting box but observed eating right after that. bald patches increasing in size."

4/28/16 - "fisher appears to be thinner and labored breathing wt - 3.67 kg" (Note - was over 5 kg earlier in the year)

(4/29/16 - Fisher not mentioned in daily observations)

4/30/16 - "fisher still breathing heavily. Didn't eat all of canine diet."

5/1/16 - "fisher ate none of yesterday's food, appears extremely weak and wobbly when walking. FM & KC notified" (Note - not veterinarians, and they did not notify veterinarian)

5/2/16 - "fisher found deceased in box. RB notified" (Note - RB is the Attending Veterinarian)

“The Attending Veterinarian was not notified regarding the condition of the fisher over these dates, until after its death,” the report states. “Daily observation of animals by assigned personnel must include prompt communication with the attending veterinarian, or his or her alternate if not available, in the event that any health problems are noted. Failure to consult with a veterinarian could result in suffering and/or a poor medical outcome for the animals.”

The fisher population has declined dramatically over recent decades with the loss of its forest habitat due to logging and, more recently, the threat of poisons used at illegal marijuana grows.  

Richard Boone, dean of HSU’s College of Natural Resources & Sciences, said in a statement that the school is “committed to teaching and research about wildlife so that we can help protect species like the fisher.”

“We were disturbed by this animal’s death, take responsibility for failure to observe proper protocols, and have taken corrective actions to ensure that a mistake like this doesn’t happen again,” Boone said.

According to HSU, where the animal spent most of its nearly 10 years after being dropped off at the campus as a baby, the fisher had health issues.

Jodie Wiederkehr, who runs the Center for Ethical Science out of her home in Chicago, said she is asking the USDA “to launch a full investigation into this incident and levy the largest fine allowable against Humboldt State University of at least $10,000 per non-compliance.”

Wiederkehr said her nonprofit chronicles citations at laboratories across the nation, which she described as a “hidden issue.”

In the case of the fisher, Wiederkehr said she believes the university should be fined and questions how the incident happened in the first place.

“Common sense doesn’t even take over,” she said. “ … No one even thought to contact the veterinarian and say, ‘This animal is suffering.’”

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

EPD Shooting Case Heads to Trial

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 4:03 PM

Tommy McClain - FROM THE 'JUSTICE FOR TOMMY MCCLAIN' FACEBOOK PAGE.
  • From the 'Justice For Tommy McClain' Facebook Page.
  • Tommy McClain
SAN FRANCISCO — Parents who say a Eureka policeman shot their son to death though his hands were in the air can take their case to trial, a federal judge said Wednesday.

Twenty-two-year-old Thomas McClain was shot to death by Eureka police officer Steven Linfoot on Sept. 17, 2014, his parents say in the lawsuit they filed in May of 2015.

The parents, Lance McClain and Jeanne Barragan, say their son was complying with orders and had his hands up when Linfoot fired seven bullets, three of which hit Thomas as he stood in his front yard.

The city claimed in a motion for summary judgment that McClain was reaching for what turned out to be a BB gun in his waistband and that Linfoot acted appropriately to neutralize a potentially deadly threat.

During a Wednesday hearing, U.S. District Judge William Orrick said he would rule for the city on some counts alleging negligent pre-shooting conduct, but not for claims relating to improper use of deadly force.

The city argued that Linfoot is entitled to immunity for claims of excessive force because he acted reasonably while facing an imminent threat of serious physical harm.

But Orrick said that because one witness contradicted the officer's story and testified that McClain had his hands up when he was shot, the material dispute of fact must be hashed out by a jury.

Nancy Delaney, a private attorney representing Eureka, said there was "irrefutable evidence" that McClain's bicep was against his chest when the first shot struck him, proving his arms were at his sides, not in the air, when he was shot.

"We understand the plaintiffs have endeavored to essentially make the decedent a bit of a contortionist," Delaney said, before placing her hands near her waist to show the judge where she believes McClain's hands were when bullets first hit him.

Delaney said that evidence is consistent with Linfoot and another officer's account of the shooting.

The family's attorney, Dale Galipo, countered that it is undisputed that McClain never touched the replica gun in his waistband and that McClain tried to comply with the officers' conflicting orders to put his hands up and "get down."

"Even if the arms lowered hypothetically to the chest or sides, he could not shoot someone," Galipo said. "He would have to actually appear to be grabbing the gun to use it."

Galipo added that no one can say which shot entered McClain's body first, to prove what position his arms were in when the first bullet struck him.

Delaney told the judge that dash cam audio reveals clearly that officers told McClain to keep his hands up, but the judge said he reviewed the footage and found it more opaque than straightforward.

"The commands on the video were confusing to the third person not on the scene," Orrick said. "They may have been clear to a person there, but they certainly weren't clear to me. That's one of the reasons I think there is a dispute."

The dash cam recorded audio, but the shooting was not captured on video.

Orrick said he would absolve Linfoot for his pre-shooting conduct, but that conduct can be used as evidence at trial to argue that the officer used excessive force.

"I'm going to stick with my tentative ruling," Orrick said, citing his plan to grant summary judgment to the city for pre-shooting conduct claims only.

The trial is set to start on Nov. 17 the Federal Courthouse in McKinleyville, in Humboldt County, 13 miles north of Eureka.

Eureka, pop. 27,000, is on the Pacific Coast, 270 miles north of San Francisco and about 100 miles south of the Oregon border. It is the Humboldt County seat.

This story was reprinted with with the permission of Courthouse News Service.
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Charges Dismissed Against Local Nurse in Elder Abuse Case

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 2:18 PM

From left to right, Steven, Jeannie and Sherman Newstrom at Nina’s Care Home. - COURTESY OF SHARON CROSSLAND
  • Courtesy of Sharon Crossland
  • From left to right, Steven, Jeannie and Sherman Newstrom at Nina’s Care Home.
The California Attorney General's Office has  confirmed that on Tuesday, Aug. 30 Judge Timothy Cissna dismissed charges of elder abuse against William Clawson, a registered nurse, in a preliminary hearing. Clawson's co-defendant, Mia Bressler, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge the day prior and was sentenced to three years of probation and 200 hours of community service.

According to a representative from the Area 1 Agency on Aging who attended the trial, Cissna said there was "not sufficient evidence" to hold Clawson accountable for the severe neglect of 83-year-old Jeannie Newstrom, who was admitted to the hospital on May 23, 2013, with extreme bedsores, unchanged adult diapers and a gangrenous toe, the dressing for which had not been changed in almost a month. Newstrom died in hospice care two weeks later. In a 10-page accusation by the Board of Nursing calling for the revocation of his license, Clawson is accused of "gross negligence" and "incompetence." On May 11, 2013, the nurse had signed off on paperwork saying that Newstrom was fit to transfer to another facility, and allegedly did not address the neglect that appears to have occurred under Bressler's care.

In the Journal's coverage of Jeannie Newstrom's death, it was revealed that Humboldt County has one of the highest rates of substantiated complaints in residential care homes such as the one where Newstrom was housed, but one of the lowest rates of citations by Community Care Licensing, the department responsible for oversight of the facilities. Agents with Community Care Licensing visited Nina's, the residential care home in which Newstrom lived, several times before it was closed in 2013, but also failed to note or report signs of neglect.

We have sent an inquiry to the Board of Nursing about whether Clawson's license will be revoked and will update when they contact us.
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Wisconsin Man Found Dead in Eel River

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 11:19 AM

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The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has confirmed the identity of a 26-year-old man found in the Eel River Tuesday evening as Joshua Deyo from Wisconsin.

Deyo was found floating face down at Bear Canyon Bridge, near Garberville. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 3.

"We are actively investigating the incident," says Selena Zorrilla-Mendoza of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. "It has not been ruled a homicide at this point."

If confirmed as a drowning, Deyo's death would be the sixth such incident of 2016.

From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:


On Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at about 5:26 p.m. Humboldt County Deputies responded to Bear Canyon Bridge near Garberville for a report of a dead body in the Eel River.

Upon arrival, deputies located a white male adult face down in the river. Detectives responded to the scene to investigate. The decedent’s identity is unknown at this time. An autopsy is scheduled to determine cause of death.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

HumBug: An Afternoon on the Van Duzen

Posted By on Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 2:47 PM

Variegated meadowhawk. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Variegated meadowhawk.

Trying to stay up to date with the entomological fauna in my area, I went for an extended hike, braving ankle-deep waters and wading upstream from my usual haunts.
A pale-faced clubskimmer. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A pale-faced clubskimmer.
I saw quite a few pale-faced clubskimmers (Brechmorhoga mendax), one of my many favorite dragonflies. You usually see them flying within inches of the surface at the downstream end of large, smooth flats on the river. As fast as they are, the best I could do was set the camera for a rapid fire series of exposures and blaze away, hoping the auto focus could keep up.
The clubskimmer in action — note its reflection on the water. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The clubskimmer in action — note its reflection on the water.
In contrast to the medium-sized club skimmers, one of the smallest dragonflies in our area, variegated meadowhawks (Sympetrum corrupt) wait on something affording them a good vantage and dash out after smaller flying insects, often returning to the exact same place over and over again. I think the specimen I saw today was the individual I saw last week on the same snag.
Nasty little bugger that bit my foot: a tiny creeping water bug nymph. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Nasty little bugger that bit my foot: a tiny creeping water bug nymph.
Farther up river, something started really hurting on the top of my foot under a sandal strap. I thought it might be a bit of sand or a burr, but when I fished it out I found a tiny creeping water bug nymph. They are not known to attack humans and my foot seemed no worse for wear an hour later.
A darner in the leaves. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A darner in the leaves.
Near the end of the day's hike, I noted a large dragonfly acting like it was seeking a place to bed down. Darners, as a group, patrol an area and seldom land until evening. It headed into a single small bush of coyote brush. I studied the plant for several minutes, seeing nothing. As I was turning to go, like Waldo in the Where's Waldo pictures, it snapped into focus, despite the fact that it has bright blue markings and it had been hanging there in front of me all the time (genus Aeshna). 
A western river cruiser. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A western river cruiser.
Finally, a Western River Cruiser (Macromia magnifica), flitted by me and, like the darner before, acted as if it were seeking a place to land. I've been seeing members of this very large black and yellow species patrolling a foot or so off the ground along dirt roads for over a month now. I stood still and watched as it flitted between low branches landed. On close examination, the picture shows this one has some mileage on his wings. By the time I got home my feet were sympathetic.


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