Sacramento County Tragedy

on November 2, 2006

I have no ghost stories. I love hearing them, though. When I was in Victoria for the KOD retreat in September, I went on a Ghost Walk. The host was fabulous and though it was only an hour and a half, I learned so much about the history of the area, including the famous Empress Hotel.

Believe or not, there are a lot of weird and unexplained things that go on in the world . . .

There’s also a lot of tragedy in the world.

In Sacramento County early last Friday morning, nearly one week ago, Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey V. Mitchell was gunned gun during a traffic stop by a lone man in a white Chevy van, in a rural area between Sacramento and Jackson. The heartless killer turned a woman into a widow and left a boy without a father. Why? No one, but the killer, knows.

From the Sacramento Bee

At 3:27 a.m., Mitchell typed into a computer in his cruiser that he was pulling over a white Chevrolet van with no license plate, noting that he was “OK.” Moments later, his microphone clicked on and off, audible to a dispatcher who could not tell whether it was a distress signal.

She radioed him and called his cell phone: no answer. Minutes later, back-up deputies arrived to find Mitchell shot in the head after what appeared to be a violent struggle, McGinness said.

Investigators found fresh damage to a fence at the scene, suggesting that the getaway vehicle might have front-end damage. They have also issued a call to the public to look out for people with trauma to their hands or face, suspecting the fight would have left marks.

Almost immediately, the police thought they had a suspect. Two people were found dead in a white chevy van in the Consumnes River, 20 miles from where Deputy Mitchell was murdered. But as they investigated, they came to the conclusion that the man was NOT involved in the shooting. A drug user who worked out of his van as a handyman had been arrested in the past for minor crimes–mostly drug related or driving without a license–and apparently took this as a manner of course. But the evidence pointed to his innocence: there was no physical trauma on the bodies. They died of carbon monoxide poisoning when they left the van on to run the heater while trapped in the river. The physical trauma is key: at the scene there is evidence that the deputy fought with the suspect. The police are looking for a suspect with injuries.

The FBI has offered some encouraging statistics: cop killers are almost certain to be caught.

Statistics demonstrate that the officers’ assailants — when their identity is known — are overwhelmingly apprehended and brought to justice. Between 1994 and 2003, 616 officers were killed in the line of duty. Of their 750 known assailants, only two remain at large.

Of the rest, 568 were arrested and 180 died of various causes.

The 2005 report provides profiles of the officer victims, details on the circumstances of the killing, and — perhaps most helpful in the current manhunt — characteristics of their assailants.

Nationwide, the report shows, 55 police officers were killed last year. Fifty of them, like Deputy Mitchell, were shot dead, most at close range.

Their 57 assailants were all males and fairly young, with an average age of 30. And most were already known to law enforcement: Fifty-four of them had criminal arrest records.

That’s good news to investigators in the Sacramento case, who are trying to match the fingerprints and DNA retrieved from the scene with records of known criminals.

The officers slain in 2005 were, on average, 37 years old with 10 years of service. Mitchell also fits that template: He was 38 and had worked for the department for nine years.

The Sheriff’s department is pulling out all the stops. Their presence is phenominal. They have checkpoints where they are taking tips near the crime scene–Dan and I passed two yesterday. America’s Most Wanted, who have brought over 900 killers to justice, is involved. No stone will be left unturned, examined, and run through the ringer. As it should be.

The Sheriff said: “In the end, it’s going to be old-fashioned police work that solves this, not some high-tech thing. Just shoe leather and connect the dots.”

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Okay, and now for a little BSP: Stonecreek Media updated my webpage over the weekend. Not all the bells and whistles are done–I’m getting a new trailer from my designer hopefully this coming weekend–but I do have some fun stuff, like Chapter One posted from SPEAK NO EVIL . . . if you’re interested, read it soon because I’m seriously thinking about cutting it. It’s long. I DIDN’T post the prologue, though, but I promise it’s creepy . . . you’ll just have to wait for the book 🙂