Yesterday evening at approximately 6:00 p.m., scanner traffic indicated that Laytonville Fire Department was dispatched to a rural road west of their town to assist the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in the extrication of a body from the bottom of a ravine.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Captain Greg Van Patten told us the deceased was a 54-year-old Laytonville man, James Docherty, Junior.
MCSO deputies responded to the 40000 block of Wilderness Lodge Road after “a neighbor advised they had not heard from the decedent for about 5 days (possibly missing) but no one had contacted law enforcement,” Captain Van Patten said.
Captain Van Patten said Docherty was found at the “bottom of a ravine on his property, at about 30 feet down on a creek bed by a neighbor.” Docherty was found wearing “boxers, t-shirt, and only one sock,” and there were no signs of “head trauma, or any obvious signs of external injuries.” Captain Van Patten added that Docherty “does have a history of medical ailment.”
Scanner traffic from yesterday evening indicated the terrain first responders were navigating was difficult and Laytonville Fire personnel were called in to use ropes to aid in the body extrication.
Being that Docherty was found at the bottom of a steep ravine, a fall seemed to be a likely cause of death. But, he was found with no external injuries. When asked what could have happened to the decedent, Captain suggested the decedent could have “walked the ravine terrain and then possibly died from exposure.” Van Patten said it is not “uncommon for exposure-related deaths in those types of areas/conditions.”
Captain Van Patten said the efforts to identify the cause of death will likely be “delayed several weeks because of toxicology/Blood Alcohol analysis.” When asked whether the death appeared to be suspicious, Captain Van Patten said, “Not at this time.”