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Minnesota Man Booked for Murder After Authorities Find His Half-Brother Dead in the Westport Surf, Says MCSO


The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. The information has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:

Mark Schwinghammer [Booking photo from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department website]

On 09-12-2021 at about 11:15 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Deputies were requested to conduct a welfare check in the 37000 block of North Highway 1 in Westport (California) concerning a threatening text message sent by Mark Schwinghammer to family members in the area. 

It was also reported that a second person, later determined to be Timothy Sweet, was reported as having wandered away from the residence. 

Based on the initial call for service, Mendocino County Mental Health was contacted but it was determined to not be a mental health related issue.

At about 11:55 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were contacted by Schwinghammer who was claiming his half-brother (Timothy Sweet) was missing after reportedly traveling to the beach to collect “mussels”. 

Upon arrival, two Deputies began to search the area along the beach near Wages Creek. 

Approximately one quarter mile south (west of Mile Post Marker 78 on Highway 1)  and south of the Westport Cemetery, Sweet’s deceased body was located at the base of a rocky cliff and partially submerged in water.

Due to the changing tide conditions one Deputy needed to tread through deep water to a safe point along the beach while the remaining Deputy stood by with Sweet’s body. 

As the tide continued to rise, resources from Westport Fire Department and the Fort Bragg Fire Department were requested for a cliff rescue to assist in extricating Sweet’s body and the remaining Deputy. 

At about 3:45 AM, the recovery was completed and during a scene exam of Sweet’s body it was discovered he appeared to have died as a result of a homicide. 

An autopsy was performed on Sweet’s body on 09-15-2021 and initial findings showed he died as a result of a physical assault. 

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Detectives were dispatched to the scene and took over the investigation. 

A search warrant was requested from a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge and served at about 7:00 AM on 09-13-2021.

Schwinghammer was contacted at the residence during the search warrant and at the end of the contact he was arrested for the murder based upon probable cause.

Schwinghammer was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $500,000.00 bail.

Anyone with information or contacts with Mark Schwinghammer or Timothy Sweet in the vicinity of the Westport Beach RV Park north of Westport on 09-12-2021 is asked to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at 707-463-4086 or the Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line at 707-234-2100. 

Schwinghammer is believed to have been in contact with campers within the park earlier that day.



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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
Picking Brains—Baring Bones—Paying it By Ears: I'm a reporter in Mendocino County and the Founder of MendoFever.

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