Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Conjecture on Social Media Grows as a Central Valley Woman’s Homicide Is Added to the Dubious North Coast Serial Killer Narrative

The five Northern Californian women who have been connected to a conjured serial killer that law enforcement denies any evidence of

Between December 2021 and January 2022, four women wound up dead in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. Three of the four were publicly described as “suspicious” by their respective investigatory agencies and beyond that, little information was offered “pending an autopsy.” 

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

In the vacuum of information, social media did what it does best and the speculation began. Basing the analysis on commonalities such as gender, the geographic proximity of these deaths, and the rural sites their bodies were located, a serial killer was given life on the internet.

Social media posts began to circulate warning women to “Please be careful” and “Don’t go places alone, especially at night.”

The three law enforcement agencies investigating these crimes were contacted and all three unequivocally said there is no connection between these four women’s tragic deaths and there is no serial killer preying on North Coast women.

But, a tale as intoxicating as a North Coast serial killer dies hard. 

A post on the r/Sacramento subreddit now since-deleted reignited the speculators by claiming the North Coast Killer’s geographic range had expanded to the capital city satellite town of Rancho Cordova. 

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The post was titled “Suspected Serial Killer in the Sacramento area – the cops are keeping it hushed.” The author of the now-removed post claimed a friend of hers knows a bar owner in Rancho Cordova who was asked by law enforcement to examine their exterior surveillance footage “to see if they could figure out who dumped the body of an area young woman at the river near the clay cliffs.”

No description available.
A screenshot of the Reddit post that claimed a Rancho Cordova woman’s homicide was the work of a serial killer that has not been proven to exist

According to the post, this bar owner reportedly had an in-depth conversation with these officers who said: “they are tracking a pattern of these discoveries that started in Mendocino, then moved to Wilkins, Napa, and now Rancho Cordova (Sacramento).” 

After reportedly divulging they were investigating a serial killer spanning Northern California, the officers were said to simply ask the bartender “to keep it hushed.” 

The post included a strident condemnation of law enforcement “not issuing warnings to the public.” “I understand not wanting to panic people, but people also have the right to know to be alert,” the author argued.

The post was deleted by its original author, and the moderators r/Sacramento locked the thread as Redditors digitally dogpiled on the author calling the speculation “irresponsible” and one mocked the third-hand nature of the presented information writing “Source: Dude, trust me.”

We spoke with Bobby Perry, the actual owner of the bar called Rstop in Rancho Cordova that was referred to vaguely in the post, who told us, “The post is full of false information.” She never had “an in-depth conversation with the police and they didn’t ask me to stay hushed.” The police did not mention anything regarding Mendocino or Napa Counties, Perry confirmed. She learned about the other deceased women after a social media commenter wrote about them in a comment on a post about the recently discovered deceased Rancho Cordova woman.

20-year-old Emma Roark found deceased in Rancho Cordova [Picture provided by the RCPD]

As per a press release from the Rancho Cordova Police Department, 20-year-old Rancho Cordova woman Emma Roark was reported missing to police on Thursday, January 27, 2022, after leaving her residence.

On Tuesday, February 1, 2022, RCPD announced Roark had been found deceased in a “secluded rural area at the river access on El Manto.” Investigators determined Roark was the victim of a homicide and an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

Roark’s death became part of an ongoing websleuth campaign connecting her to the deaths of four North Coast women: 22-year-old Ukiah woman Alyssa Mae Sawdey, 33-year-old Willits woman Amber Dillon, 37-year-old Napa woman Crystal Lea McCarthy, and 33-year-old Guerneville woman Cynthia Crane.

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The evolution of this North Coast Killer narrative began when Amber Dillon was found deceased in a rural area near the Mendocino/Sonoma County line on January 7, 2022. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office would later deem her death as “suspicious.” 

Four days later Alyssa Mae Sawdey was found deceased north of Ukiah. Later the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would also deem her death as suspicious. 

Mendocino County community members began to connect the two women’s deaths immediately, pointing towards their common gender, their youth, their Mendo roots, and the characterization of the deaths as “suspicious” as fodder for this serial killer narrative. 

Once the social media speculative train began to move, it picked up speed quickly. Soon this North Coast Killer was suspected of being involved with the death of Crystal McCarthy, a Napa woman who was found deceased in the Napa River on December 23, 2021. 

Another victim of this manufactured serial killer was identified by the name of Cynthia Crane, a 33-year-old Guerneville woman whose death was labeled  “suspicious” after she was found floating in a rural Sonoma County waterway.

Approximately two weeks ago we spoke with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, and Napa Police Department hoping to verify or disprove these claims as their proponents’ fervor gathered steam online.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Juan Valencia flatly told us, “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.”  

Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall spoke to us after the back-to-back deaths of the Mendocino County women Amber Dillon and Alyssa Mae Sawdey saying after “exhaustive efforts of investigators” there is currently, “no connection between these two cases.” He added, “[I]f I thought we had a serial killer out there, the public would be the first to know.”

Detective Brandt Keown, one of the Napa Police Department’s investigators looking into the death of Crystal McCarthy, said “I did not know there were rumors. I did know about these others. I don’t think there is a serial killer.”

We will be reaching out to all involved law enforcement agencies who are investigating the cases involved in this serial killer narrative once again to check in on the status of their investigation, including the Rancho Cordova Police Department. 

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Fundamentally, the tragedy of these five women’s deaths is hard to fathom, but as of now, every law enforcement agency, the men and women tasked with identifying serial killers, have emphatically denied it. 

These agencies are tasked with bringing closure to these womens’ families and making sense of their untimely deaths. In those efforts, they are asking the public for information regarding these five 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.

If you know anything about the death of Emma Roark contact the Rancho Cordova Police Department at (916) 362-5115 or Tip information may also be left anonymously at http://www.sacsheriff.com or by calling (916) 874-TIPS (8477).

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  1. Close your eyes let us lead you
    Tomorrow we bleed you
    Pretend that our words may be true
    And while we’re here to stay
    Civil rights will fade away
    As we spin propaganda for you
    Propaganda we will offer you
    All that fake news censored by our crew
    All that fake news all that fake news
    Propaganda is easier to chew
    Guys like Manning and Snowden
    With Wikileaks exploding
    Exposing a war crime or two
    Can’t allow a free press to block corporate success
    When propaganda’s better for you
    It may seem kinda funny
    Our leaders own the money
    They promise to care for the poor
    Yet once your destitute
    In a bright orange jump suit
    Locked behind a big iron door
    Douglas Wayne Coulter rips off the Beatles

    Without public pressure these deaths will end up in the cold case files
    Police have a bad habit of not sharing info with other agencies

  2. Whatever the story ends up being, it’s still good advice to anyone. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t travel alone late at night. Let someone know where you are going when traveling and check in with them. Good advice period.

  3. Even without the serial killer narrative, this is very scary. The thought that there are multiple killers is just as disturbing if not more disturbing . Multiple people out there killing and dumping women and not being caught , is very scary. I think that women need to be aware of their situation and surroundings and aware that there are multiple killers in this area. The down playing of the serial killer situation doesn’t make it a better situation or less of threat to women in these areas.

    • Claiming these women have fallen victim to a serial killer before any direct evidence distracts from their individual lives and the unique tragic circumstances that led to their deaths.

      The average person cannot name one victim of even the most famous serial killers. (Go ahead, try to name one without Google)

      Why? Because the killer becomes the story, not the lives they took.

      When we attribute these women’s death to a serial killer that has yet to be established by facts, their humanity is shrouded by a fog of fear and speculation.

      These women deserve our individual recognition. They deserve to be seen for who they were, not what speculatively unites them in death with others.

      Imagine you were one of their mothers, with the public attributing your daughter’s death to a serial killer with no specific evidence, just that other women were also killed. Suddenly, your baby becomes one of many, another victim to a speculated serial killer.

      Five women are dead—this is no speculation. Each one of them deserves our awareness and advocacy. Summoning a serial killer from the ether does not honor their deaths, it distracts and channels our fear and anger, when we should be channeling our care and grief for these women, their families, and the lives they lived.

  4. In the mid 1980’s I found Caroline Garcias purse dumped in the bushes near Cap Horn outside Colfax. It yielded the fingerprints of David Allen Rundle, my neighbor on Ben Taylor Rd. 3 California serial killings got him a spot on death row at a cost of 15 million to California tax payers. Ten year later I found the body of Eva Marie Miller one half mile from the same site. Half naked thrown into a ditch near a shooting range. She was a Native American sex worker who died of drug overdose. Case closed. California saves tax payers money. Placer County, Cap Horn killed more Chinese workers than the whole transcontinental railroad. They are buried under those tracks and the earth bleeds from innocent blood.

    • But that is NOT evidence of a serial killer. Patterns are not evidence.

      The Texas sharpshooter fallacy- committed when differences in data are ignored, but similarities are overemphasized. From this reasoning, a false conclusion is inferred

      I can say “pandas are the same as cows.” And you would say “that is nonsense. Prove it.”

      I could say, “They’re both black and white, they’re both omnivores, they’re both land mammals, they’re diets both mainly consist of plants.” I would hope you would call non-sense.

      Now that we’ve ruled out these patterns as a valid form of evidence, what else do you got? Because sloppy sleuthing and overemphasized similarities ain’t gonna cut it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  5. Without public pressure these murders end up cold case. Linked or not the people want answers. In the vacuum of official response grows the theories of tin foil hats.
    But someone knows something and tip hotlines help fill in the blanks

  6. The Texas Tower sniper told his Doctor he had problems in his head, “here take two aspirin”
    He had a large brain tumor but it did not effect his USMC marksmanship

  7. Tomorrow 7 Feb is the two year anniversary of the shooting death at Kings Court Ukiah VA parking lot that never made the paper. How about that? Are you a journalist? I do not even know the name of the veteran killed. Crime scene was sanitized and VA had gag order

  8. That trail photo is the South Caspar one. I recognize the log reinforcement. I have walked that trail since the built it. The trail begins at Campground Market near the beach. I’ve photographed Osprey near Caspar Graveyard for 20 years

  9. It seems to me that the similarity in all of these cases should be looked at as possibly connected! All rural, all near water, all women of general same age and all suspicious…

    It is remiss to not at least look at the possibility


  10. I have personally stuck Graham after Graham of dope in my veins that you can’t even get anymore that would triple and water and clear every time stuff that made you chase after things that didn’t exist take apart things that weren’t broken and sit up at night all night with a gun I’m telling you this there is no dope good enough around to get somebody to die from any kind of methamphetamine overdose I’ve seen people eat quarter ounces of dope at a time and you’re telling me that some girl was found dead on the side of a road somewhere that it’s not random that how did she get where she was at but she just fell out of the sky and landed there and you guys think that this person died because she was high on methamphetamines you got to be a stupid as a cop should figure this out and my name is Gary Robert via I don’t hide behind no hidden names or b******* when are you guys ever heard of anybody oding on methamphetamines

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. 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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