Young woman dies in Halloween rape

Young woman dies in Halloween rape

WILLITS, MENDOCINO COUNTY – Kayla Grace Chesser loved dancing. The 25-year-old young woman taught belly dancing at Cloud 9 Studios in her hometown of Willits, and performed contemporary dance, often in exotic costumes. She had been a high school cheerleader and basketball player, and went on to study psychology at Mendocino College. She had also begun school at Sonoma State University.

Poppy Drive in north Willits curves through forest land with homes sparsely located off the road.

Poppy Drive in north Willits curves through forest land with homes sparsely located off the road.

On Halloween night, Chesser was with a group of friends celebrating in costume. A story in the Press Democrat said that Kayla had been dressed as a cat, and that the group had gone to the Brooktrails Lodge in northwest Willits. According to the Mendocino Sheriff’s office, Chesser was dropped off at one of her friend’s homes that evening while the rest of the group went on. The home is located further into the hills north of Willits, along Poppy Drive in the sparsely populated area, just past Lake Emily. The homes out there are more like mountain cabins than neighborhood houses.

The friend who owns the home where Chesser was dropped off has a cousin from Vacaville named Terrell James Marshall Jr. Marshall, 44, is a known sex offender. He had been convicted of sexual penetration with a foreign object by force of fear, and was registered as a sex offender via Megan’s Law. It is not clear at this time if he was there when Chesser was dropped off, or if the homeowner even knew he was visiting. But at some time during that night, he was alone in the house with Kayla Chesser.

Terrell James Marshall Jr., Mendocino County booking photo.

Terrell James Marshall Jr. in hospital clothing, Mendocino County booking photo.

During that time, evidence later showed that Marshall sexually assaulted, and then strangled Chesser to death. The group of Halloween partiers later returned to the home, and encountered Marshall still at the house. They also found Chesser’s body in one of the bedrooms, with no signs of life. While they called for help, Marshall left the house in his pickup truck. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at 5:36 am. Chesser was brought to Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits, where she was pronounced deceased.

Marshall, meanwhile, fleeing in his truck drove north on Highway 101. After taking the Covelo Road exit, he drove northeast towards Covelo through the mountains. Near mile marker 12, perhaps feeling panic or remorse, he drove off the road down a cliff to the Eel River basin. He was discovered at about 1:00 pm on Saturday. He suffered significant injuries in the crash, and was transported to a hospital out of county for treatment.

Marshall drove his truck off Highway 162 to the Eel River basin

Marshall drove his truck off Highway 162 to the Eel River basin

Detectives conducted their investigation into the incident, including a forensic examination of Chesser’s body, which revealed the cause of death and sexual assault. They submitted their reports to the District Attorney on November 6, and a felony warrant was issued for Marshall on Monday, November 17, while he was still in supervised care at the hospital. When he was discharged on Tuesday, at 2:00 pm, he was immediately arrested and booked into Mendocino County jail with a no bail status on charges of murder, rape and sodomy.

Reaction to Kayla Chesser’s brutal death was immediate. A message on the Satya Bellydance Facebook page reads “This past weekend we lost our troupe mate, friend, and Satya sister Kayla Grace Chesser. It has been an honor to share the stage with such a positive, genuine soul. Her light will shine in our hearts forever. We love you Kayla!” A video tribute to her was also created and posted on Youtube with the caption “The unforgettable light and beauty that you resonated will shine ever so bright through the many lives you have touched.”

Read More:

Press Democrat: Suspicious death of Willits woman under investigation


Young woman dies in Halloween rape was last modified: November 20th, 2014 by admin
Categories: Mendocino


  1. kareen james
    kareen james 20 November, 2014, 10:14

    Who are you to assume he felt “panic or remorse”? Why would you assume that much less print it? Shame on you.

    Reply this comment
  2. Joanna Branson
    Joanna Branson 29 November, 2014, 15:25

    Agreed; panic or remorse is unlikely! The road in question is a narrow, treacherous one, especially in the dark. Much more likely is he lost control of the vehicle and swerved into the ravine.

    Reply this comment
  3. K.B.
    K.B. 12 December, 2014, 21:16

    Someone who takes a life most likely does not feel remorse. But I disagree on the possibility of losing control and swerving. Why not kill yourself when you are already going to hell? Plus, author Ken Kiunke did say, “perhaps.”

    Reply this comment
  4. Ken Kiunke
    Ken Kiunke Author 15 December, 2014, 08:40

    Thanks for your comments on this tragic story. Just to clarify, when I wrote “perhaps feeling panic or remorse” it was based on statements by the Sheriff’s office that his accident appeared to be intentional, and I should have clarified that in the story. My assumption that he felt panic or remorse was from the idea that he may have by then regretted what he did, not so much for the victim, but for his own circumstances. Of course that is speculation as well; only he knows the true motives for all his actions.

    Reply this comment
  5. The Nuch
    The Nuch 16 February, 2015, 22:13

    I am Kayla’s brother- in -law…….when I heard the the already convicted rapist drove his truck off the road I knew instantly……he had been jailed for the same crime minus the death he knew how they are treated in prison for that crime…..he just didn’t want to be sodomized for the next 30 years…..we’ll thank god he survived so he can continue taking it in the rear until he gets the chair… long dirty monster!

    Reply this comment
  6. Kaylyn
    Kaylyn 27 March, 2015, 19:04

    I am a close friend of Kayla’s, and also had the privelage to attend her dance classes and performances.. One thing about this article that completely enrages me is the line “often danced in exotic costumes” which not only is not a factual statement but also implies to most that she wore suggestive costumes, and had such a personality, she didn’t. She was very conservative. Very classy. Very dignified. Very innocent. That is all.

    Reply this comment
  7. Angel
    Angel 1 June, 2015, 07:57

    As I understand what can be assumed by “exotic costume” the phrase or terminology itself is not negative or implicative of anything other than meaning “different”, as one would say someone traveled to exotic lands. . .

    Reply this comment
  8. LuLu
    LuLu 6 July, 2015, 16:56

    I just found about this horrible tragedy today… I went to school with Terry Marshall since 7th grade. I’m so angered by this because he tormented me on a daily basis, starting at the age of 12. He made life a living hell for me, and now I am so angry after trying to push this trauma to the back of my mind! My teachers always looked in the other direction, as Terry would grope me, at 12 year old, with such force… He would pull me out of my chair and to the floor. I’m SO VERY SORRY about this beautiful woman, Keyla, paying the the ultimate price for Terry’s evil and twisted actions and mind. The guilt I feel, is too overwhelming for me to comprehend.

    Reply this comment
    • gwenn
      gwenn 16 August, 2015, 18:49

      Lulu .. maybe you should contact Kaylas family’s lawyer.. You could be a good person to testify.

      Reply this comment

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