Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Garberville Death Ruled a Homicide; County Eclipses Grisly Record

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 3:26 PM

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A forensic pathologist’s determination that a Georgia man died of blunt force injuries not consistent with a fall has morphed a suspicious death investigation into a homicide case, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced today. It would be the county's seventh homicide of the year.

Deputies responded shortly before 1 p.m. on July 18 to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, where 37-year-old Khanh Lam was in critical condition, unconscious from a possible assault. Through their investigation, deputies learned that Lam had been involved in an argument with a female in downtown Garberville after attempting to remove a child from her car. During the argument, four men confronted Lam, who took off running. The men, who had dogs with them, gave chase, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

“At some point during this incident it was reported by a witness that Lam possibly fell while he was running and received a head injury from falling to the ground,” the press release states, adding that witnesses called 911 after finding Lam lying unconscious in the 700 block of Locust Street. Lam was transported out of the area to be treated for a brain injury, but was ultimately taken off life support by his family.

After recording a record 16 homicides last year, Lam's death would be this year's seventh to date, putting the county on pace to record 12 this year. As is, Lam's apparent homicide leaves the county having tallied a total 34 homicides in 2013, 2014 and thus far in 2015, eclipsing the highest three-consecutive-year tally on record. (The prior high was 33, set in 1991 through 1993.)

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information about Lam's death to call detective Jennifer Turner at 268-3642.

The following is a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

On Saturday, July 25, 2015 an autopsy was performed on Lam’s body at the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office by a Forensic Pathologist. The results of the autopsy were Lam’s injuries were not consistent with a fall, as previously reported by witnesses. Cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Lam’s death as a homicide.
On Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 12:48 p.m. a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy responded to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, regarding a possible male assault victim, who had arrived at the hospital by ambulance. Hospital staff told the deputy that the male victim, who had been identified as 37 year old Khanh Lam was unconscious with a severe head injury and was in critical condition. Lam was flown to an out of area hospital for treatment, because of his injuries.
Deputies and CHP Officers then responded to a possible location where Lam was injured, which was located in the 700 block of Locust Street, Garberville. Deputies spoke to witnesses who reported that Lam was involved in an argument with a female subject and attempted to remove her child from a car. At some point during the argument (4) four males subjects confronted Lam. According to the witnesses Lam took off running and the (4) male subjects, along with their dogs started to pursue Lam on foot. At some point during this incident it was reported by a witness that Lam possibly fell while he was running and received a head injury from falling to the ground. When witnesses found Lam lying on the ground unconscious they dialed 9-1-1.
On Sunday, July 19, 2015 at about 5:00 p.m. a medical doctor informed the Sheriff’s Office that Lam is currently on life support and has no brain activity. Lam’s family has been notified and is consulting with medical staff on their decision to take Lam off life support. Lam is from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Sheriff’s Office is considering this a suspicious death investigation and is asking for the public’s help if anyone witnessed this incident. They are encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office or Detective Jennifer Turner at 707-268-3642.
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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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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