Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Four Years After Disappearing, the Fate of Round Valley’s Khadijah Britton Haunts Her Family and Local Law Enforcement


It has been four years since Khadijah Britton, a 23-year-old Wailaki woman from the Round Valley town of Covelo, was taken from a friend’s home at gunpoint by her ex-boyfriend and has never been seen again. 

Her disappearance has resulted in thousands of investigative hours from law enforcement, a community desperate for answers, and an activist group calling for justice taking up Khadijah Britton’s cause.

Negie Fallis, the lead suspect in the disappearance of Khadijah Britton [Photo from the Mendocino County Booking Log]

As per a press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, around midnight of February 7, 2018, Khadijah Britton was reportedly taken from a Covelo resident by her boyfriend Negie Fallis who was armed with a derringer pistol and demanded to speak with her. Witnesses reported Fallis took Britton outside the residence and a physical altercation broke out between the two. After the fight, both Britton and Fallis entered a black Mercedes sedan and drove away. Nobody, family nor friends, has heard from Britton after she drove away that evening.

Negie Fallis is considered a suspect in Britton’s disappearance and is currently serving time in a Bay Area jail for charges unrelated to Britton’s disappearance. In June 2020, Fallis was found in possession of a handgun and assault rifle after fleeing from Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office deputies. In October of that year, the case was handed over to a federal court which he still awaits trial.

Last February 5, 2021, Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall and FBI Assistant Special Agent in charge of the San Francisco Division Scott Schelble hosted a press conference announcing a $10,000 reward for anyone that could provide information that would lead to Britton. 

Sheriff Kendall, standing over a podium, said, “It’s the belief of the MCSO that somebody in the Round Valley has information on this crime.”

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Agent Schelble said he hoped the $10,000 dollar reward would encourage “members of the community to come forward.” Shelby added regarding Khadijah’s fate, “Somebody knows.”

Sheriff Kendall said his agency had spent “literally thousands of hours of investigative time and hundreds of hours of interviews” working to find Britton. 

Britton’s grandfather Ronnie Hostler told us that after four years, he wants his granddaughter’s case solved “We have three law enforcement agencies that know what happened to Khadijah,” Hostler said. He requested the public come forward to assist them in their investigation.

Connie Hostler, Khadijah’s mother, remembered her daughter fondly for her “stubborn attitude and crazy but annoying laugh.” She said, “I appreciate all the love and support for Khadijah!” Hostler reflected that “Not a second of my day goes by without thoughts and tears for my child” and said that it is “time my daughter to be brought home and it is time for justice for my girl.”

The mural depicting Khadijah Britton

Britton’s case has become a fixed point in the North Coast’s Missing and Murder Indigenous Women movement inspiring rallies, murals, and protests. A banner depicting her and “MISSING” in prominent letters can be seen along Highway 101 throughout the Emerald Triangle. 

Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall told us a major factor in Britton’s case remaining unsolved is a culture of not talking to law enforcement that exists in Round Valley. “In these areas where people don’t talk to police, we have a hard time solving crime,” Sheriff Kendall said.

“Solving crimes requires a partnership with the public,” he explained. On Mendocino County’s South Coast, Sheriff Kendall told us 80% of burglaries get solved, well above the average rate, because “everyone picks up their phone and calls us.”

Dance and song permeated the evening as performers and attendees honored the mural, Khadijah Britton, and all missing and murdered people [Pictures taken by Matt LaFever]

Britton’s disappearance has been explored in newspapers, YouTube videos, and podcasts which Sheriff Kendall attributes to her family “really beating the drum and pushing her case forward. Their work pushes her into the spotlight.”

As to why Negis Fallis has not been charged for his known connection to Britton’s disappearance, Sheriff Kendall said he is tasked with collecting enough evidence so the “District Attorney can have a solid case.” Thus far, the evidence relies on individuals that provided initial statements to deputies after Britton’s disappearance, later recanting them after it was determined Britton had been killed and then wanting to submit a new statement. 

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Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Activists speaking to attendees of a rally recognizing the third anniversary of Khadijah Britton’s disappearance.

When asked what sort of evidence would allow MCSO to file charges with the District Attorney, Sheriff Kendall said, “A body, or confession, or any other hard evidence.”

With another year having passed since Britton disappeared, Sheriff Kendall hopes his agency will solve her disappearance while her grandparents are still alive. “We will continue to work every single day. It’s about finding more evidence.” 

A banner for Khadijah Britton on Highway 101 in Hopland

If anyone in the community has information regarding the disappearance of Khadijah Britton, contact the FBI at (415)553-7400 or http://www.tips.fbi.gov. Tips can also be provided directly to MCSO by calling (707)463-4086 or accessing their anonymous tip line at http://www.wetip.com.

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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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