Over four months ago Lake County Sheriff’s Office asked for the public’s help in locating 63-year-old Lucerne man Ronald Meluso, later determined to be the victim of a homicide. Yesterday, with the assistance of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, the 26-year-old person of interest Nova Maye Deperno was located and apprehended in Sonoma County.
As per a press release issued by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Sonoma County Sheriff’s SWAT team and personnel from the LCSO acted on information that indicated Deperno was at a residence at the 14000 block of Occidental Road. As the operation took place, Deperno fled the residence, and after searching for two hours Sonoma County’s Henry-1 helicopter spotted the suspect hiding under a tree canopy.
Deperno was taken into custody on arrest warrants unrelated to Meluso’s disappearance for charges including assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, and brandishing a firearm.
The public was first told of Meluso’s disappearance in August 2021. The family last saw him on August 18 and he was thought to be without a vehicle. They reported he had not been returning phone calls and stopped communicating with friends and family. This behavior was considered out of character for Meluso and despite searches in multiple jurisdictions, LCSO personnel were unable to locate Meluso.
It was not until December 13, 2021, that LCSO stated publicly Meluso was believed to be a victim of a homicide, and Deperno was considered a person of interest in the crime.
As of now, Deperno sits in the Sonoma County Jail and his bail is set at $635,000. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office stated “foul play is suspected in the disappearance of Ronald Meluso” asking that anyone with information regarding his whereabouts contact Detective Jeff Mora at 707-262-4224 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It must be stated that the charges described have not been proven in a court of law. In accordance with the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, any individual described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.