Couple in rural Mendocino terrorized by man, and ultimately take action
Potter Valley is a small, rural farming community in the far inland valley of Mendocino County, northeast of Ukiah and Redwood Valley, with a population of around 700 people. Nestled along the East Fork of the Russian River, the area is known for excellent soil and growing wine grapes, pears, and other agricultural products. On Tuesday evening, a couple in their 50’s living in the wooded north end of town got an unexpected, and terrifying visitor.
The woman had come home at about 5:00 pm and saw that a strange man was inside the house. According to the Mendocino Sheriff’s office, she told them she thought it must be someone who needed help out in the sparsely populated area. She spoke to the stranger to see what he wanted, and she said he was very confrontational with her.
She tried speaking calmly to him, hoping he would leave her alone, but he became increasingly aggressive towards her. She tried to think of a way out, and told him she needed to feed the animals they kept on the property. He told her OK, but he was going with her, and showed the woman a gun tucked in his pants. She nervously fed the animals, and when she was done, the intruder demanded that she feed him too.
Around that time, the woman’s husband arrived home. The intruder, later identified as Eugene Matthew Peterson Jr., met the man in the driveway, brandishing the gun and telling him to go away. He shouted to his wife to run for it, but she later explained that she didn’t run for fear of what he might do, such as fire his gun at one or both of them. The husband then left the home, went to place where he would have cellular phone service, and called 911. The Sheriff’s Department received the call at 5:55, as it began to get dark, and sent deputies immediately to the scene.
The husband returned home, and when Peterson saw he was back, demanded that he leave. He then fired several shots from the handgun, but did not hit the man. While he was shooting, the wife made a run for it, but Peterson turned his attention back to her, and caught her in the home’s carport. As he dragged her back to the house, she struggled with him to get control of the gun. Her husband took the opportunity to tackle Peterson, and between them he was disarmed and detained, and got a black eye.
While he was detained by her husband, the woman took the phone and called the 911 dispatcher to inform them the intruder had been caught. It was only 15 minutes after the first call. Deputies soon arrived and took Peterson into custody.
Eugene Matthew Peterson is listed, sometimes as a transient, and sometimes as a resident of a home in rural northwest Redwood Valley. He has a long history with law enforcement, with records going back several years , mostly for possession or being under the influence of controlled substances, including concentrated cannabis and methamphetamine. (His father, Eugene Peterson Sr. also has several area arrests, including for failing to register as a sex offender.)
On June 21 of last year, Peterson was charged with burglary, along with the usual under-the-influence and probation violations. He made bigger news in July when he was arrested for vehicle theft and possession of stolen property, drugs and paraphernalia. He and a woman named Tellie Jo Simmons were found near Laytonville, when a caller reported trespassers. The pair were with a gray SUV that had run out of gas. Simmons said a friend had loaned her the vehicle, but it proved to be stolen out of Ukiah, and the property inside was linked to thefts from Fort Bragg. The pair also had meth and paraphernalia.
Deputies arrested Peterson at the Potter Valley property and booked him into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, criminal threats, burglary, and probation violations. Bail was set at $250,000.
Read More: Ukiah Daily Journal: Mendocino Sheriff’s Roundup (2013)