Thursday, July 25, 2024

Despite Law Enforcement’s Emphatic Denials, Social Media Insists Four Women Are Victims of a North Coast Serial Killer

All four women speciously attributed to an unsubstantiated North Coast Serial Killer- From left to right: Ukiah’s Alyssa Mae Sawdey, Napa’s Crystal McCarthy, Guerneville’s Cynthia Crane, and Willits’s Amber Dillon

North Coast Community Facebook pages have continued to circulate an unsubstantiated rumor that a serial killer is preying upon women in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. This assumed serial killer’s victims were originally two Mendocino County women but has grown to include one from Sonoma County, and another from Napa County.

The Facebook post making rounds on North Coast social media making claims a serial killer is preying on North Coast women.

We reached out to all three law enforcement agencies investigating the deaths of these four women. All, in their own way, made it clear there was no known connection between these tragedies and these cases are not a result of any serial killer preying on women.

These rumors first emerged after two women were found deceased under suspicious circumstances mere days after one another. The first was 33-year-old Willits woman Amber Dillon who was discovered in a field off Highway 101 near the Mendocino/Sonoma County line on January 7, 2022. A press release from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office stated Violent Crimes Investigators combed the area for evidence on the following day deeming the death as “suspicious.”

It was Tuesday, January 11, 2022, when SCSO Sergeant Juan Valencia revealed to us the name Amber Dillon when reports emerged of a body being found in Ukiah near the intersection of Christy Lane and Parducci Lane. After three days, MCSO identified the decedent as a 22-year-old Ukiah woman Alyssa Mae Sawdey and labeled the death as “suspicious” requiring a forensic autopsy that could take several weeks to complete.

Community members started to concoct this theory of a serial killer immediately based on commonalities between these women: their gender, their youth, their residence in Mendocino County, their characterization as “suspicious,” and the fact the cases emerged just days after each other.

As web sleuths descended on the case, we reached out to Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall about these claims and he said unequivocally after “exhaustive efforts of investigators” there is currently, “no connection between these two cases.”

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Soon these sleuths upped this unverified North Coast serial killer’s victim list to four including 33-year-old Cynthia Crane, a woman who was found dead in a creek near Sonoma County’s Guerneville, and 37-year-old Napa County woman Crystal Lea McCarthy who was found floating in the Napa River.

33-year-old Crystal Lea McCarthy was reported by the Napa Police Department as missing on December 20, 2021. Her last known location was the Napa River Trail. Napa Police released the last known image of McCarthy alive taken by a 7-11 surveillance camera on December 13, 2021, at 10:30 p.m. Ten days later, a Napa Sheriff’s deputy was patrolling the Napa River by boat search for McCarthy when he discovered a woman’s body under the Third Street Bridge near downtown Napa. Investigators recovered the body, confirmed it was McCarthy, and informed her next-of-kin. Her body was discovered downstream from where she was last seen, and details regarding her cause of death are still pending.

We spoke with Detective Brandt Keown, one of the Napa Police Department’s investigators looking into the death of McCarthy. Upon informing him that McCarthy’s death was being tied by social media web sleuths to a serial killer, he simply said, “I did not know there were rumors. I did know about these others. I don’t think there is a serial killer.”

33-year-old Guerneville woman Cynthia Crane [Picture provided by her mother Leslie Booker]

As to McCarthy’s cause of death, Keown said that information will be released pending autopsy results as well as toxicology reports.

As to 33-year-old Cynthia Crane, we spoke with Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Juan Valencia who told us she was found floating in a Mays Canyon creek on December 18, 2021. He told us her death is labeled “suspicious” because she was found in the water and bystanders saw someone floating downstream and called it in. Similar to the three other women, an autopsy is being conducted and more information will be available at a later date.

Sergeant Valencia spoke to law enforcement’s designation of a death as “suspicious.” He understood that the public sees the word as implying malevolence or wrong-doing. When law enforcement uses the word, Sergeant Valencia explained, initial investigations determine the actual manner of death is unclear and more investigations are necessary to determine the cause.

He went on to say that “every time someone dies and it’s not witnessed by somebody, the manner, and cause of deaths are considered suspicious” with follow-up investigation required.

Sergeant Valencia described how if an elderly person was to die at home alone in their bed, investigators would reach out to the individual’s doctor to corroborate ongoing health issues that might have led to natural death. He added that if a person was to die in a car accident, the manner of death is clear with further investigations unnecessary.

Meanwhile, a drug overdose is more than likely going to be considered a “suspicious death” until a toxicology report is completed and investigators can point towards the exact cause.

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But, in deaths like these four women in which the means and manner of death are unclear based on the evidence gathered at the scene, the death is considered “suspicious” and investigatory steps are taken to determine the cause. Investigators photograph the scene, collect evidence, and work hard to determine the cause because as Sergeant Valencia put it, “we only have one chance to get it right.”

Regarding these rumors of a serial killer, Sergeant Valencia said, “People are going to assume the worst” and “speculate without having all the information.” He made it clear that “there is no information or evidence there is a serial killer, and if there was we would tell them we would want the community to be on high alert and be aware of the danger.”

MCSO, SCSO, and Napa Police Department are asking the public for information regarding the respective cases. If you know anything about the circumstances surrounding Dillon’s or Crane’s death, contact Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 565-2650. If you have information about Sawdey’s death, contact Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at 707-234-2100 or the WeTip anonymous crime reporting hotline at 800-782-7463. If you have information about the death of Crystal Lea McCarthy, contact Napa Police Department Detective Brendt Keown at (707) 257-9592.

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  1. Crane swimming in a creek seems odd, McCarthy jumping off bridge or swimming in river seems odd…All four should be suspicious. Drugs & falling in.Weird

  2. Mendocino county is number four for drug overdoses per county in California. There is a serial killer about and impending toxicology reports should finger him once more. In the meantime local politicians, county supervisors, Woods, McGuire, and congressman Huffman don’t give a damn about these young women and their sad endings. These toxic, serial killers all come in from Mexico and most of the chemicals hail from China. In the meantime, social media morons believe the ghost of Ted Bundy is vacationing in Northern California.

    • Way to show you’re not racist. Anyway, drugs come from Mexico, with the help of the American government btw. There are interviews with cartels and they make it pretty clear that the us government is in high demand for those drugs. As for the serial killers, historically they’ve been mostly Caucasian men. Where tf did these two countries come into play with any of this? Sit down and read. Don’t let your beliefs get in the way of the truth.

  3. Overdose is one thing but body dumping is a serious marker for murder. Someone dumped Michael Humickey’s body on Franklin Street in Ft Bagg back in 2015 and the newspaper gave bogus info. I found his body at 4:00 AM and he was in rigor. News refused to mention that poison drugs were involved. OD equals closed case. Green River Murders took 30 years to solve because who gave a shit about marginalized women?

    • good point! and if the serial killer is intelligent enough and knows these women have a weakness towards partying he can be the one providing them with the party substance to make it look like an overdose if he wanted to ! just saying and if they all have drugs in thier system then more likely authorities are going to think it’s just the drugs

    • It’s sad how law enforcement rather sweep this under the carpet.someone left those girls out there. I personally knew 2 of them&regardless of life choices they may have made,they wouldn’t have gone to these places by choice ( or at least the girls I knew) & one thing that hasn’t been addressed,these girls were supposed to be on trim jobs! amberbecerra18@gmail.com

      • Some Gangs could of killed them. Their able to travel around through the woods at night together like the police. Maybe the ladies did something wrong also who knows. Sad place

  4. Lots of ODs are dumped, especially if the overdose occurred in the residence, transportation or presence of another user or drug dealer to avoid complicity. The Green River victims were unfortunate, strangled sex workers. Do date, there is no evidence that these tragic, young women were prostitutes. To assume or link this is grossly unfair.

  5. I’m only linking mediocre police investigations. If Charles Manson had not murdered famous people he would not have been caught so quickly. He most likely murdered in Mendocino County

  6. I witnessed a man murder his three children by arson in Smartsville California 1976 and they did not investigate, why? Because nobody wants that ugly scar hanging over their community. A man was shot and killed in VA parking lot, Kings Court Feb 7 2020 yet no news coverage and crime scene was sanitized within two hours. If a dog was shot it would be front page.

  7. So what was the official cause of death for each of these women? Did they all die of overdose or was that just suspected? Would be nice if the article actually explained what the official causes of death were determined to be, not just “suspicious” pending further investigation.

    • The official causes of death are UNDER INVESTIGATION.
      Therefore, there is, as of yet, no “official cause of death”.


      Everyone is getting whipped up into a serial killer fervor without any indication of a causal connection between the cases.
      Ooohh the Boogeyman.

      Thankfully there are real murder police on the cases…not just the fear mongering self proclaimed internet “sleuths” (who know little if anything about investigation or what constitutes evidence or correlation) AND provocateurs who love to drum up drama.

      • I did READ THE ARTICLE. The first two deaths were over a year ago. Certainly the autopsies and toxicology results would be back by now. I have no idea if this is a serial killer and have no horse in that race. My question has nothing to do with serial killers, just asking why there has not been an official cause of death a whole year later.

      • Cirquemom,
        Takes less time to carefully read the details than to have them explained again.
        Especially when the publicly available details are clearly delineated in this article and the previous ones.

        Reread those dates.
        Not even close to a year ago.

        All 4 were “found” within the last 33 days.

        The lower section of my post above was to everyone whipping it up not you particularly.
        Many of them make similiar reading comprehension mistakes right before they start jerking their knees in reaction.

        • From the article; ‘The first was 33-year-old Willits woman Amber Dillon who was discovered in a field off Highway 101 near the Mendocino/Sonoma County line on January 7, 2021. ” January 7, 2021. NOT 2022. That’s over a year ago. Also from the article: “It was Tuesday, January 11, 2021, when SCSO Sergeant Juan Valencia revealed to us the name Amber Dillon when reports emerged of a body being found in Ukiah near the intersection of Christy Lane and Parducci Lane. After three days, MCSO identified the decedent as a 22-year-old Ukiah woman Alyssa Mae Sawdey and labeled the death as “suspicious” requiring a forensic autopsy that could take several weeks to complete.” January 11, 2021. Not 2022. Those two are both over a year old. Maybe we’re reading two different articles?

      • Try again

        Amber Dillon
        Jan 7, 2022…2022…with a 2
        NOT A 1

        Alyssa Mae Sawdey
        Jan 11, 2022…2022…with a 2
        NOT A 1

        Today is Jan 20, 2022

        These events are still NEW events within the last 13 days.


        Slow your roll and, please, read the articles with more care.
        That should provide all the context necessary to gain a much clearer picture of the timeline of all these events.

        The MCSO just had Parducci lane and biz property blocked off last week where Alyssa was found.
        Amber was found 4 days earlier.
        Crystal on Dec 23

        All of these victims were found within the last 33 days.
        Not 398 days.

        If there is a misprint in some article you found then please email the publisher.

        • OKay, before getting all snarky with me, please go back to THIS article, on THIS page. Read the third and fourth paragraphs. The quotes I listed up above are directly cut and pasted from those two paragraphs. So yes, apparently THIS ARTICLE which I am referring to is wrong. I didn’t misread it and I’m not misquoting it. So maybe you could back up a bit and actually read this article to which these comments are attached. I googled the name and found the same article on Redheaded BlackBelt as well as the San Jose Merc News, which DOES list the dates as 2022. However THIS article right here shows them as being 2021, hence my confusion. You kept telling me to reread the article, which I did a number of times, and the dates as they currently stand show 2021. So the glitch is not my reading comprehension but actual misinformation in this article, which we are commenting on.

    • So message Matt.

      This is a waste of time.

      I’ve read all the other articles and witness investigators at the scene…so I glossed over the typo in this article.

      Your original question is moot

      • Agreed to my original question being moot, as well as your own response to my question, which was to reread the article. This was the first and only article I had seen about this issue, and was baffled at your comments that I was misreading it.

      • Would’ve been easier to read the articles referenced in this article.
        Those articles have more specific details of each of these events.

        There’s a list of 6 different articles at the bottom of this article.
        All right here on this site from the last 2wks.

        Also the correct dates are right there in the screenshot from facebook in this article.

  8. Is grasping for an answer, like serial killer, societies way of coping? Are we just naming our fear? Could a serial killer be the lesser of two evils? A serial killer and drug empire may be elusive and hard to catch. Yet the most elusive thing of all today seems to be accountability. As a society have we gone to far in our delegation to government agencies to insist on accountability? The system we have installed is no longer functional.

  9. Press For Truth, the documentary covers four widows who force 911 investigation that US government refused. No FAA investigation of four airplanes down. We the people must force authorities to be transparent

  10. So I’m taking it they’re all drug related? Since there’s no obviously like like ropes around the neck, paternity eyes, strangulation, cut wrists etc etc etc what else how else can you die let’s see oh stab wounds gun shots dismemberment so they’re all drug I’m guessing is what I’m getting at, right?

    • And why would you make such a assumption?

      Do you have info that contradicts the official law enforcement statements?
      Or are you just doing your part in starting and supporting another highly speculative rumor?

      There’s a reason the LEOs say unclear cause of death….they don’t know yet.
      That’s specifcially what investigations, including autopsies, are for.

      Why are so many people so vested in bullshitting?

  11. Shoot, I hate to reply to these things but here goes:
    In my uneducated opinion, four deaths within the same general region, all suspicious, all young women, all found in unlikely areas to have actually died naturally there, points to more than just coincidence. Maybe the bodies were “dumped” but by whom and why all so close together regionally, all women, two of them with prior arrests (one, just a few weeks ago)? A pattern is a red flag for something “other” than just coincidence. All of the shoulder shrugging (and snarky comments?) by police (sheriff) regarding these theories is puzzling.

  12. Law and Order or NCIS are TV fiction and propaganda. Police and forensic science do not work hard to solve crime unless public pressure builds. Perez murder if Ft Bragg is clear case, police bully a young stoner to confess for a life sentence while the murderer gets a short sentence and hormon treatment. Unless evidence falls into their laps, police rarely work hard at anything except getting to the doughnut shop.

  13. Only through karma. The death of these children remain my most traumatic experience. And I keep finding dead bodies. 6 so far. Only one, Caroline Garcia got justice with David Allen Rundle ending up on death row for 3 California murders.

  14. I don’t believe in coincidence or random universe
    Name a trauma and I have experienced it. Never married, no children

  15. Divorce without the paperwork. Break ups are traumatic but not as messy. Death of ones own child is one the deepest traumas a human endures

  16. Check out the rest area’s in Northern California preferably the rest area traveling up North 1 hr – 2 hrs before Eureka. Pulled in there once saw a Mountain Lion sitting on the curb in the daytime with it’s back to me facing the men’s bathroom where I was headed. I had to use the bathroom so bad didn’t even think about it when I got to the men’s bathroom door I seen the Mountain Lion stand up & start walking toward me. I went in the restroom & warned the big guy that was using the toilet part I was at the urinal unable to use it because a nice size mountain lion is now entering the men’s bathroom. So the big guy walks around the mountain lion toward the sink & he tells me to break for the door just after him. So we both get out of there. Except the Mountain Lion follows me to my car so I get out the aluminum baseball bat just to keep the mountain lion away from me & others didn’t intend on hurting the near animal but kinda shew it back into the bushes. Which it eventually did walk into the bushes down a trail sort of. I had to pee bad so I start to pee in the grass, & the people standing there & the wildlife officer’s or whatever officer showed up asked me why I was peeing in the grass Infront of people. I told them I was in the bathroom but the mountain lion wouldn’t let me use the restroom. They didn’t believe there was a mountain lion, so the officer walked the trail I told him where the mountain lion went & he comes back saying the mountain lion was still sitting over there. So they gave me a break on peeing in public near story I love Mountain Lion’s sometimes their friendly luckily.

    Anyways at some of those rest areas up in Northern California there are plenty of flyers for missing kids & people which is sad. Sometimes the Gangs get them, or who knows.

    So be careful.

    One time after that I pulled into another restarea at night was afraid to go to the restroom after other mountain lion incident. So I peed into bush next to car & heard a loud growl sounding like a mountain lion in the bush. The people sleeping in a van next to my car asked what it was. I told them there was a mountain lion in this bush. So be careful if they had to use the restroom in the middle of the night. Rest areas can be fun & dangerous.

    Another story I read was a biker was on his motorcycle in a rest area parking lot in Northern California around or above Willit’s & a mountain lion was walking toward him & he road off. Neat you never hear about them attacking people much.

  17. A Rhyme Without Reason
    We interrupt this broadcast
    The public was appaled
    The actions of a very twisted mind
    What could have made him do it
    Asked everyone involved
    Bestial barbarous and unkind

    I knew he had some problems but
    He did not seem the type
    What monster lurks beneath the calm
    How anyone could do this
    The papers loved the hype
    Extra Extra read about the bomb

    Terrorism anarchy
    The list goes on and on
    New laws must certianly be past
    The barber and the postman
    The guy that mows the lawn
    Discuss the gruesome details of the blast

    Tabloids and talk shows
    They all spoke his name
    Expert opinions by the score
    It must have been his childhood
    His parents are to blame
    Exclusive interviews and more

    Tourists come to see his grave
    Souvineers are sold
    Books are simply flying off the shelves
    Everyone loves mayhem
    It’s worth it’s weight in gold
    Keeping us from looking at ourselves
    Nov 29 1998 by Douglas Wayne Coulter

  18. Just read a story on Facebook that a bar owner was contacted in Citrus Heights, CA about recovering footage from their cameras out front to identify a suspect that dumped a body on the river, apparently connected to the Mendocino cases. Hadn’t heard about the other cases til I read that post and now I’m convinced this has to be the 5th victim!

  19. These women are very similar to the women who have been killed in the yuba Sutter are over the past 8 years that seemed to have stopped around the start of COVID


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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