A 35-year-old Bethel Island Man was murdered in Mendocino County on November 11 and a statewide alert has been issued for five suspects.
Mendocino County Sheriffs Deputies say that on November 11 at 3:39 pm, they were summoned to a reported man who had been murdered on a remote property located in the 49000 block of North Highway 101 in Laytonville, California.
The property was a rural parcel approximately 5 miles from Highway 101, on a dirt road that traveled in a westerly direction.
Deputies responded to the scene confirming there was a male adult who was obviously deceased as a result of what appeared to be a violent assault.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives were summoned to the scene, along with Investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office and Criminalists from the California Department of Justice.
During the investigation it was determined the deceased male adult, Jeffrey Quinn Settler, was operating a commercial marijuana growing operation on the property.
In the early morning hours of 11-11-2016 (Thursday), multiple subjects who had been recently employed by Settler as marijuana trimmers returned to the property in the middle of the night with the intent to commit robbery of processed marijuana.
The investigation has revealed the subjects knew the marijuana was stored in the same structure where Settler slept and the subjects violently assaulted him during the robbery, causing his death.
The subjects were believed to have fled the property in at least two vehicles and were believed to have stolen over 100 pounds of processed marijuana. The subjects are believed to possibly be fleeing to Southern California or out of state.
One of the vehicles is believed to be a blue 2017 Volkswagen Golf 4-door sedan displaying Virginia license plate number VHR5611.
Sheriff’s Detectives have obtained a murder/robbery felony arrest warrant for Zachary Wuester, who was identified as being one of the subjects involved in this case.
Sheriff’s Detectives have also identified Frederick Gaestel, Gary Blank III, Gary Lynn Fitzgerald and Amanda Weist as being participants in the robbery/murder.
A statewide Be-On-The-Look-Out (BOLO) was disseminated for all the subjects and Sheriff’s Detectives will be seeking arrest warrants on the remaining subjects in the near future.
- Zachary Ryan Wuester (24 year -old male from Haskell, New Jersey)
- Frederick Gaestel (27 year-old male from Clifton, New Jersey)
- Gary Blank III (Adult Male from Elgin, Illinois)
- Gary Lynn Fitzgerald (23 year-old male from Roanoke, Illinois)
- Amanda Weist (26 year-old female from Fairfax, Virginia)
The investigation has shown no evidence or inference that the marijuana growing operation was for medical purposes and Sheriff’s Detectives believe it was solely for the purpose of commercial gain.
Any persons with information about this incident, or the current whereabouts of the named suspects are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Unit at 707-463-4421 or the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 707-234-2100.