On April 3rd, 2023

California DOJ Criminalist Assists MCSO with Homicide Investigation

COVELO - On March 29, 2023, at approximately 4:34 a.m., the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center received a report of an adult male in need of emergency medical assistance on Tabor Lane in Covelo. Deputies were dispatched to the location as it appeared the adult male had sustained some type of injury possibly the result of a physical assault.

Attempts to save the male’s life were initiated but medical personnel on the scene declared the man deceased. Deputies noticed the adult male had what appeared to be a possible gunshot wound. Sheriff's detectives were called to the scene and began a death investigation with the assistance of the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office, Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force (MMCTF) and a criminalist with the California Department of Justice.

“California Department of Justice criminalists  respond to crime and homicide scenes at the request of local law enforcement agencies to assist with the collection and processing of evidence,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “They are a valuable contribution to investigations given their training and expertise.”

The gunshot victim was identified as Nicholas Shehli Whipple, 20, of Redwood Valley.  A forensic autopsy determined Whipple had a gunshot wound to his torso and his death is currently being investigated as a homicide.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office later announced that Lee Anthony Joaquin is wanted in connection with the homicide.  Joaquin is an adult male standing 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs approximately 180 lbs.  Joaquin has shoulder length hair that is sometimes pulled back in a ponytail.

Joaquin is considered armed and dangerous.

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