38-year-old Laytonville resident, Robert Wayne Bell, was booked into the Mendocino County Jail early Friday morning for a series of charges associated with a domestic violence incident in Willits where he reportedly abused his mother, his daughter, and violently resisted arrest when law enforcement intervened.
In August 2021, Bell was arrested for entering a neighbor’s home on Spy Rock Road in the throes of a psychiatric episode at one point naked and covered in blood.
The two Spy Rock Road residents we spoke with are terrified of the potential danger they say Bell presents and are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that as of now he is in a secure cell at the Mendocino County Jail.
Willits Police Department Chief Fabian Lizarraga told us early Friday morning Bell’s mother contacted law enforcement telling dispatch her son was endangering both her and his own daughter. Officers responded to the 1400 block of Bechtle Road and found Bell “aggressive and combative” requiring officers to deploy a taser twice which had no effect. Chief Lizarraga said responding officers saw indications that Bell was in “some form of mental health crisis” acting erratically and not able to control his faculties.
The incident resulted in Bell being arrested and booked in the Mendocino County Jail for the following charges: felony elder abuse resulting in great bodily harm, felony cruelty to a child resulting in possible injury/death, felony resisting/threatening an officer, felony resisting arrest by taking a firearm from a police officer, a misdemeanor charge of taking a weapon other than a firearm from an officer, and a charge for disrupting/obstructing a public safety radio frequency.
In the last two weeks, three trailers have been burned on the property associated with Bell on Spy Rock Road and two neighbors told us he may have been the one to light the fires. The first incident occurred one week ago when dispatch was informed that a smoldering trailer had been located near the intersection of Spy Rock Road and Karma Road, the location of the property Bell is said to reside at according to both neighbors we spoke with. The reporting party surmised the trailer had burned during the night but had gone unnoticed until reported.
The second fire, burning around 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, where initial reports indicated a trailer was reportedly on fire at the same location and a man had been seen screaming and running around the yard trying to extinguish the flames. When the Incident Commander arrived, he reported that two trailers had been destroyed and that there did not appear to be any property owner nearby.
We spoke with two residents of Spy Rock Road, both nearby the property Bell resides, and they both believed that Bell was responsible for the fires. Laytonville Fire Chief Sue Carberry confirmed that the fires were suspicious in nature but could not identify the person of interest related to those fires.
One of those neighbors was the victim of Bell on August 4, 2021, after, according to her, he vandalized her vehicle and entered her home without permission.
This incident was outlined in a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office press release. Deputies were dispatched to the 3000 block of Spy Rock Road regarding reports of a vehicle being vandalized. The victim told deputies Robert Bell had entered his residence without permission then proceeded to vandalize his Toyota truck. The victim noted Bell’s hands were cut and bloody and deputies began to search the area.
Deputies encountered a neighbor who told them earlier in the day Bell was running around naked and screaming. Bell was finally located in the 3000 block of Spy Rock Road displaying “two fresh cuts on his hands” reportedly “acting strangely, sweating profusely, wearing the same clothing described by the victim, and was talking but not making any sense.”
The victim, his neighbor, told us “I thought I was going to die” when she saw Bell standing in her living room, covered in blood and not wearing a shirt. She said she had “never seen the man before in my life,” just heard the rumors of a “crazy guy” that lived down the street from her.
She remembered sitting in her living room, reading a book and taking it easy on her body after a recent knee replacement surgery. She looked up and saw Bell standing shirtless, covered in blood. He said to her simply, “I’m bleeding.” She responded, “I’ll get you a paper towel.” At this point, the neighbor recounted Bell putting his arms out in front of him like “a zombie” and began to walk towards her so she stood up and stomped her foot loudly. The stomp seemed to break Bell out of his stupor and she introduced herself. He replied, “My name is Robert Bell.” She once again offered a paper towel for the blood and Bell told her he was looking for his grandfather. Hoping to get him out of her home, she said, “He’s outside.” Somewhere in the midst of the incident, Bell managed to break the taillight of her vehicle as well as do significant damage to the interior of it.
Bell’s behavior on that August day can be better understood through information revealed in a Mendocino County Superior Court document from July 7, 2020 entitled “Order for Commitment.”
The document describes Bell facing a felony charge for the possession of a billy or a blackjack and taking part in a hearing on May 14, 2020, to determine his competency to take part in his own defense. That July 2020 hearing concluded that Bell was not mentally competent to take part in his own defense.
In light of these findings, the court determined that Bell would be placed in an in-patient treatment facility pending restoration of his competency.
Another neighbor told us issues associated with Bell have been occurring for nearly a decade.
In the last two weeks, this neighbor told us, Bell has threatened his father who took to hiding from his son with a neighbor, started the three trailer fires, has been seen “going crazy in the street” throwing items at passers-by, and committed the acts of abuse and police resistance in Willits
According to this neighbor, she has an easy vantage point of Bell’s property and often sees his comings and goings and always considered his behavior a “safety issue” for the Spy Rock community. She would watch Bell “rant for hours like a demented Jack in the Box” and watched him recently throwing wheelbarrows and shovels into the road.
The neighbor who was victimized by Bell in August told us, “People talk about Spy Rock Road as [if it is] so dangerous [but] if I’m walking on the side of the road, everyone will stop and check on me, ask if I’m all right.” However, she said, Robert Bell has finally “made me feel unsafe up here. I used to never lock my doors, now I always do.”
It is important to note that Robert Bell has not been found guilty within a court of law of any of the aforementioned crimes he has been booked for or is suspected of. With due respect to the potential victims of the circumstances described, any individual described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.