Monday, September 23, 2019

Bone Positively ID'd as Belonging to Missing Woman

Posted By on Mon, Sep 23, 2019 at 3:26 PM


The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office confirmed today that a human femur found near the mouth of the Eel River in June is that of Sheila Franks, who went missing in early 2014.

The positive identification — first reported by Redheaded Blackbelt — came earlier this month from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services laboratory in Richmond, accord to Lt. Sam Williams.

“The Sheriff’s Office had previously secured DNA from family members and that was used in the comparisons,” Williams said in an email to the Journal. “In September, the Sheriff’s Office received written notice from the DOJ that the bone was in fact a femur belonging to that of Shelia Franks.”

Williams said the coroner’s office was notified when the bone fragment was found by a private citizen June 10 and the area was searched for any other possible remains, but none were found.

Franks, who was 37 at the time, disappeared within a week of Danielle Bertolini, whose skull was found in 2015 by a man who had gone fishing on the Eel River, just upstream from Howe Creek. Both women were last seen with the same man, who has previously been described by law enforcement officials as a "person of interest."

“The cause and manner of death are undetermined at this time. The case is not labeled ‘Homicide,’ however, it is suspicious and is being investigated accordingly,” Williams wrote. “As to a ‘person of interest’ versus ‘suspect,’ no changes have been made to this point. The person of interest is the same in both cases.”

Williams said the investigation is ongoing with the sheriff’s office and the Fortuna Police Department continuing “to work closely together and share information."

The Sheriff’s Office and Fortuna Police Department encourage anyone with information in either case to contact investigators at 445-7251 or 268-2539.
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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Trucker Killed in Single-Vehicle Crash

Posted By on Sat, Sep 21, 2019 at 9:14 AM

A truck driver was killed yesterday morning when her lumber truck veered off U.S. Highway 101 near Garberville.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation but CHP reports a trucker driving a 2010 Kenworth semi truck hauling lumber on a flatbed trailer traveling south on U.S. Highway 101 veered off the west side of the road, over an embankment. The truck overturned and came to a rest on its roof on the east bank of the river below.

The truck was discovered at 8 a.m. yesterday by a Caltrans crew and the driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Her identity is being withheld by officials until her family can be notified.

Neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be a factor in the crash, according to CHP. Read the full collision report here.
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Friday, September 20, 2019

Hundreds Turn Out as Humboldt Participates in Global Climate Strike (With Slideshow)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 6:28 PM

Zoe Reiss, an Arcata High School senior, addressing the crowd at Arcata's Global Climate Strike. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • Zoe Reiss, an Arcata High School senior, addressing the crowd at Arcata's Global Climate Strike.

As community members waited on the Arcata plaza, their climate-action signs in hand, loud chanting emerged from Ninth and G streets, “Save the Earth!” “Save the Earth!” Hundreds of Humboldt State University and Arcata High School students started to flood the plaza in a massive wave. They were ready to set make mark as part of the Global Climate Strike.

About 5,000 strikes in 156 countries around the world (including 500 strikes in the U.S.) participated in the Global Climate Strike today to call for action against the climate crisis. Spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who works to highlight the climate crisis, thousands of students and adults walked out of schools and workplaces to participate. The strike comes a few days before the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City, where officials are scheduled to create new efforts to combat climate change under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

In December of 2015, world leaders from 195 countries came together and established a plan to combat climate change and dubbed it the “Paris Climate Agreement.” According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the agreement is a framework for global climate action and “provides a road map for cutting emissions of greenhouse gasses.”

Almost all of the countries around the world signed on, including the U.S. under President Barack Obama. However in 2017, President Donald Trump announced the U.S.’s intent to withdraw from the agreement. According to NRDC, exiting the Paris Climate Agreement is more extensive than it sounds. To withdraw from the agreement, the plan has to be enacted for at least three years and, on top of those three years, the U.S. has to wait another year before it can actually leave the pact (meaning that the earliest it can leave is Nov. 4, 2020, a day after the presidential election). However, after President Trump’s announcement, a combination of U.S. cities, states and businesses signed the “We Are Still In” declaration, affirming their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

At noon today, HSU and Arcata high school students marched from Arcata High School down to the plaza, where local climate activists, students and community members voiced their frustrations of the growing climate catastrophes, rising greenhouse emissions and very few policy and cultural changes that could spark solutions.

Students marching towards the center of the Arcata Plaza. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • Students marching towards the center of the Arcata Plaza.

“We are passed the point of viewing climate crisis as a debate,” Zoe Reiss, an Arcata High School senior, said to the crowd. “It exists and humans need to be held accountable.”

Neesh Wells, a senior at HSU, said that they never saw themselves participating in an event for climate action but, over the past year, they began focusing on changing their own habits to help reduce climate change by bringing Tupperware to restaurants, using reusable coffee cups, and shopping locally and at thrift shops instead of online. Wells also began interning for Zero Waste Humboldt, an organization that focuses solely on waste reduction solutions.

“People need to be aware that [climate crisis] is only going to get worse,” Wells said. “There’s a lot of passionate people here and we need to continue what we see today and implement that passion into our everyday lives.”

Many community members joined the strike, including Kate Mckinnon a Humboldt County resident who says she wanted to join the schools in the strike for climate change to try to make a difference.

“Congress remains inactive on climate action issues, in spite of data that’s been presented by scientists that the Earth is in danger,” Mckinnon said adding that she’d like to make a difference in her own way, by participating in these kinds of events. “It does make a difference, it’s getting people to really think about [climate action].”

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Mendo DA Upset to Learn of Former EPD Officer's Past Dishonesty, Will Dismiss Cases that Require His Testimony

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 10:38 AM

Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster has grave concerns about the Willits Police Department’s hiring of Jacob Jones, having learned of sustained allegations of the officer’s dishonesty during his tenure with the Eureka Police Department.

In a scathing, incredulous 2,400-word letter to Willits Police Chief Scott Warnock, Eyster expresses dismay at Jones’ hiring despite the sustained allegations that he lied to superiors in an attempt to hide “defective or incompetent” police work while in Eureka last year and anger that Warnock didn’t inform him of Jones’ past, leaving Mendocino County’s top prosecutor to learn about them through an Aug. 29 article in the North Coast Journal (“Light in Dark Places”). In the letter, Eyster goes into detail to explain how the U.S. Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland requires prosecutors to turn over any exculpatory evidence they have in a case, which subsequent courts have determined includes any evidence of past instances of dishonesty by the investigating officers.

“Words cannot adequately express how disappointed I am that you failed to notify me or, for that matter, anybody in my office of the peace officer hiring of Jacob Jones despite Mr. Jones’ obviously Brady background,” Eyster writes. “Having personally reviewed the Brady materials provided to you by the Eureka Police Department, you surprisingly overlooked what was important therein and approved the hiring of this badly tainted former EPD officer as a Willits police officer. First, I would never have thought in a million years that it would be necessary for me to remind you that honesty and credibility have always been essential traits for a police officer.”

Jacob Jones is sworn in as a Willits police officer June 12. - FACEBOOK/WILLITS POLICE DEPARTMENT. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JONATHAN WEBSTER.
  • Facebook/Willits Police Department. Photo illustration by Jonathan Webster.
  • Jacob Jones is sworn in as a Willits police officer June 12.
Eyster further writes that he is personally reviewing every criminal case in which his office planned to use Jones as a “necessary and material prosecution witness” with plans to dismiss them unless they can be prosecuted without Jones’ involvement.

Warnock responded to a Journal inquiry seeking a response to Eyster's letter and an update on Jones' work status and duties but declined to comment, saying it's a "personnel matter." Willits Human Resources analyst Karen Stevenson said Jones remains employed by the city, though he is presently “on vacation.”

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North Coast Night Lights: Fading but not Forgotten

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 9:17 AM

It was a ragtag group of setting sunflowers awaiting us at the patch by the time I made it out there to photograph them. The forlorn farewell of sunflowers contemplating the next phase of existence. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • It was a ragtag group of setting sunflowers awaiting us at the patch by the time I made it out there to photograph them. The forlorn farewell of sunflowers contemplating the next phase of existence.
I’ve come to embrace the unexpected when I photograph. I tell people when I go out that it’s always an experiment, but I think they think I’m kidding. In part I am, as I am pretty comfortable with my photography, but there’s also a lot of truth to it. It’s dark while I’m photographing; I don’t simply make an exposure reading and take a picture or set a bank of lights (which I don’t have) to some magic value that will fill a scene perfectly with light. I’m not even necessarily interested in “perfect” light. I hope to make a striking image when I photograph, and that’s usually all there is to it. I do it by the seat of my pants; it’s art. I’ve found that while my planning will sometimes be enough, often it’s something unexpected that adds the touch of magic that makes it special.

My son came out with me the night I made the sunflower image. I told him as we traveled how usually the unforeseen will show up in the form of unplanned light of some kind, but when we arrived the unexpected took a different approach. I had imagined finding vigorous sunflowers standing tall and firm, their bright faces looking toward the next dawn, as in other sunflower images I’d seen. It’s the way they look, I thought without thinking. I hadn’t really considered it further. Instead we found a motley crew of disheveled figures, slumped and downcast as their time on Earth slipped through their shriveled petals. Night had only just fallen and these flowers would wait through the long watch for the rays of one more morning’s sun. Dismayed at first that I had missed their prime, I realized as I stood awhile with them that these were telling their own poignant story, and it added an emotional component to the final image.

There is a mathematical sequence that appears frequently in nature called the Fibonacci sequence. I recommend looking it up; it’s fascinating. But while I’m not here to discuss it in depth, it is relevant to the image at hand. The little florets or seeds across the faces of sunflowers offer a ready example. A close look will reveal that the florets radiate from the center in strong spirals paths. The shapes of these spirals follow a Fibonacci sequence. Leaves on a twig also often arrange themselves spirally in this sequence, and there are many other examples in nature. It’s a ratio or sequence that we are as accustomed to seeing in our everyday lives as blue sky, though we may only subconsciously register it.

Closely related to the Fibonacci sequence is the Golden Ratio, a ratio of 1:1.618. In some circles it is believed the most pleasing rectangles to our eyes are ones the sides of which are made in this ratio. If so, perhaps it is because we are so accustomed to seeing things in nature that exhibit the Fibonacci sequence. I only speculate; I’m not an authority on the Fibonacci sequence or Golden Ratio, and I’m certainly no mathematician. But I’ll tell you this: when I first made an image in a rectangular shape with sides in the Golden Ratio of 1:1.618 I received a Best of Show for it. Your mileage may vary. Of course, after you make your image, you’ll discover that 1:1.618 does not yield a standard print or frame size. For some reason the photo world adores the 8x10 rectangle, but it has no magic.

Because the sunflower gives us such a visible example of the Fibonacci sequence in the arrangement of its florets, which is closely related to the Golden Ratio, I am presenting this image in a rectangle using the Golden Ratio of 1:1.618. It does make a nice rectangle, doesn’t it?

To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, visit or contact him at his website or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx .
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Thursday, September 19, 2019

McGuire: Judge's Tax Return Law Ruling 'Perplexing, Premature and Unneccesary'

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2019 at 4:12 PM

A federal judge today granted a temporary injunction to block California’s recently signed legislation that requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the state’s primary ballot.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. said a final ruling in the case would be coming in the next few days but there would be “irreparable harm without temporary relief.”

The Presidential Tax Transparency & Accountability Act was challenged within days of its July 30 signing by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who at the time said that “states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence.”

Judicial Watch, a self-described “conservative, non-partisan educational foundation” that “promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law,” was the first to sue. That action was quickly followed by President Donald Trump and his campaign and the Republican state and national parties, which filed two separate lawsuits.

North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire McGuire, who co-authored the legislation with Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, described England’s ruling as “perplexing, premature and not necessary.”

“We’re way out in front of any deadline required under the law and the irreparable harm argument is simply not apparent,” McGuire said in a statement released by his office. “I think the judge got this one wrong and a decision as important as this should not have been rushed or the law prematurely shut down.

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Drier Weather Ahead After Deluge Drenches Arcata

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2019 at 11:34 AM

Rain totals for Sept. 18. - NWS
  • NWS
  • Rain totals for Sept. 18.
So that was a lot of rain.

According to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service, Arcata bore the brunt of the storm with some 2 inches of rain coming down in one hour. The record for the day was 1.45 inches (in Eureka) set back in 1977.

The deluge left flooded streets and water damage at Humboldt State University in its wake — along with a healthy dose of thunder and lightning.

“Facilities Maintenance staff was on site well into the evening dealing with the impacts,” a campus message states. “We may continue to see impacts as the water continues to seep into other locations, both at the facilities we addressed last night as well as others beyond the immediate flood path.”

The rest of the week is expected to be warmer and drier (possible showers on Sunday), according to the NWS.
Read the HSU campus message below:

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Two Killed in Crash on State Route 299

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2019 at 9:22 AM


Two people were killed in a head-on collision yesterday morning on State Route 299 west of Willow Creek.

CHP responded at 11:45 a.m. to a report that a Mazda Sedan traveling eastbound on State Route 299 at an unsafe speed for wet roadway conditions had lost control and driven into the westbound lane, where it collided with a 2010 Chevrolet armored truck. The driver and passenger in the Mazda were both killed in the crash and the driver of the armored truck, Bradley Huss, of Redding, sustained minor injuries.

According to the report, the driver and passenger of the Mazda are foreign nationals and their identifications are being withheld until their families can be notified.

Alcohol was determined to not be a factor in the crash, according to CHP, which will continue to investigate the collision and asks anyone who may have information to contact the its Humboldt office at 822-5981 or email to

Read the full press release below:

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Mountain Lion Spotted 'Chilling' on Bayside Porch

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 4:21 PM

A mountain lion spotted from a Bayside window. - PORTIA HERGER
  • Portia Herger
  • A mountain lion spotted from a Bayside window.
What appears to be an adult mountain lion took a stroll through a Bayside neighborhood this afternoon and even relaxed a bit on one woman's porch.

“We saw it around 2 o’clock,” said Portia Herger, who lives with her housemates off Bayside Road, which she describes as “pretty busy.”

“My housemate saw it first and thought it was just a cat,” she said, adding that they could just see its head. “It was kind of chilling on our porch steps.”

Later it it went under their deck and began moving around their yard.

“It was making sounds,” she said. “It was chirping almost like a house cat but a lot more powerful. ... It was there, from when we noticed, until it left … for five … 10 minutes.”

Editor's note: This story first was first published on and is reposted here with permission.
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Watch Out for Wandering Wildlife in the Roadways

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 10:57 AM

A school bus traveling north toward Orick gives students a little extra study time as elk cross U.S. Highway 101 near Big Lagoon. - FILE
  • File
  • A school bus traveling north toward Orick gives students a little extra study time as elk cross U.S. Highway 101 near Big Lagoon.

Wildlife is on the move this time of year, which means drivers need to be even more cautious while traveling the region’s rural roads and highways.

According to a joint release from Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, vehicle-wildlife collisions “typically peak” this time of year, when animals are migrating to their winter haunts or preparing for hibernation.

“It is vital that drivers be especially alert now through December to avoid collisions with wild animals,” the release states. “These crashes not only harm wildlife, but they can damage vehicles and cause injury and death to drivers and passengers.”

California Highway Patrol stats show 15 people died and 810 people were injured in 4,368 collisions with animals on state, county and local roadways throughout California between 2017 and 2018.

“From September through December, wildlife often exhibit natural behaviors that can increase their movements and activity nearer to humans and roadways,” CDFW Conflict Programs coordinator Vicky Monroe said in the release. “That makes large animals such as deer, bears and mountain lions more likely to be killed or injured by wildlife-vehicle collisions.”

This young deer was rescued after its mother was killed by a car. - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • This young deer was rescued after its mother was killed by a car.
Read the release from Caltrans and CDFW below:

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