Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Willits Woman’s Cause of Death ‘Undetermined’— Multiple Signs Point Towards a Traumatic Blow to the Head

33-year-old Willits woman Amber Dillon [Photograph provided by her mother]

In early January, 33-year-old Willits woman Amber Dillon was found dead in a remote field just over the Mendocino/Sonoma County line. Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes detectives investigated the scene.

A Death Investigation Synopsis Report provided by the Sonoma County Coroner’s Unit provides the most insight into Dillon’s death since the investigation began. 

As per the report, Dillon was found dead lying in the grass, fully clothed on the afternoon of January 7, 2022. On her scalp was an inch-and-a-half cut and in her jacket pocket were two capped hypodermic needles.

Photograph of the area where Amber Dillon’s body was located [Picture provided by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office]

Dillon’s cause of death was determined to be intraparenchymal hemorrhage and cerebral edema of uncertain etiology. 

“Intraparenchymal hemorrhage” is bleeding that occurs within the tissue of the brain and  “cerebral edema of uncertain etiology” is caused when an excess of fluid accumulates in the brain leading to compression of tissue and blood vessels. “Uncertain etiology” means the cause of that cerebral edema is unknown.

Both of these conditions can occur as a result of traumatic brain injury. 

Other significant factors that led to Dillon’s death were “environmental exposure/hypothermia”, “blunt force injuries of head”, and “methamphetamine abuse”.

Also note, that the identification of “blunt force injuries of the head” and the inch-and-a-half cut on her scalp point towards some sort of traumatic blow to the head that contributed to her death. Whether that blow was due to being stuck by someone else or a fall to the ground is yet to be determined. 

Amber Dillon’s death became public knowledge on January 11, the same day news broke that 22-year-old Alyssa Mae Sawdey was found deceased off Ukiah’s Christy Lane. The two young woman’s death fueled a fast-growing internet rumor that a serial killer was preying upon women in Northern California.

Just last week, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office identified Sawdey’s cause of death as “acute methamphetamine toxicity”. 

In a conversation with Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Juan Valencia, the circumstances surrounding Dillon’s death are still under active investigation and the case remains open.

Due to the ongoing nature investigation, no further information could be provided. Sergeant Valencia requests that any members of the public that have information regarding the circumstance call the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 565-2650.

Previous Coverage

The North Coast Serial Killer Viral Rumor

Amber Dillon

Alyssa Mae Sawdey



  1. So are they looking for someone?? Or are they just going to say well she may have fell and bumped her head. There is someone out there giving these girls the drugs and there is someone out there that put these girls where they were at. So someone knows something and was involved in some way. So why not look for them and question them??? Oh because it’s just a couple girls who have a drug history. Law enforcement really needs to stop judging these people when things happen to them. Nobody knows the whole story. I have had to deal with this exact thing and it disgusts me. Stop putting your self above all when this stuff happens. Law enforcement isn’t immune to this especially their families! Look for the people who are involved NOW!!!

    • I’m Ambers mother and I feel like there not doing anything about this. I need/want answers. This not knowing is killing me and the family.

  2. It is shameful that law enforcement operations both here and in Sonoma County are dropping the ball on these two questionable deaths. Not related? Not likely. When they happened days apart and were similar in so many ways.
    The report from law enforcement is so sketchy it is hard to see what happened, so I guess we’ll never know. All we can do is hope it doesn’t happen again, but if it doesn’t it won’t be because of the stellar performance by law enforcement. Very upsetting and sad and infuriating.

  3. Let me get this straight. You take meth you OD then you throw yourself on the side of the road. Not just one girl does this but 2 girls two days apart and it’s not a serial killer. Sounds strange to me. Keep looking these girls deserve justice. Maybe you feel these girls are not important enough but they are.

  4. The problem with Law Enforcement Investigations into the serial deaths of substance users is that there’s this dominant belief that addiction equals low importance. Looks to me like “social media” does a much better job of investigating suspicious deaths than the police investigators do. What’s worse is how law enforcement investigations are so secretive from the public, withholding information, and ultimately making the decision whether or not “this meth addict, those pill poppers, or that heroin junkie” deserves to be treated like a human at all. Sadly, the system(s) in place has failed these folks at a young age, forcing them to survive without resources for help, leaving them with the readily available option to self medicate as a highly effective coping mechanism that works instantaneously. (Which, I might add, are easier to obtain off the streets than a free hot meal is). Then the law enforcement agencies want to throw some kind of judgment upon them, deeming them less important than the average citizen, publicizing that as news, and for some reason those beliefs have become paramount in these “mediocre” investigations. Acute Methamphetamine Toxicity?!? Wait, What!?

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. 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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