A young man living in the rural hills of Westport picked up a woman hitchhiker, and after he dropped her off, she came back and tried to steal his car.
According to the Mendocino Sheriff’s Department, the 26-year-old man told them that he had picked up a female hitchhiker on Friday afternoon, June 5. They didn’t say where he picked her up, only that he took her as far as his own home, which is in the hills of Westport. The main part of Westport, a small town in northern Mendocino County, is right on the beautiful rocky Pacific coast. With a population of only 60, one gas station and a handful of tourist inns, it is the epitome of a California coastal small town along the Shoreline Highway.
North of town, heading over the Coastal Range mountains and into the Mendocino Valley, the city of Laytonville and the 101 Freeway, is winding Branscomb Road. The young man who picked up the woman hitchhiker lives along this road, about two miles from the coast, and that is where he brought his passenger. He reported that the woman stayed in the “area” the rest of the day, but did not explain how he had expected her to go anywhere else. Perhaps he thought she’d hike down the road to the Coastal Highway and hitch a ride the rest of the way to her home in Fort Bragg.
But the hitchhiker, 36-year-old Anna Marcella Fee, stayed there, perhaps just hanging around, or perhaps as his guest. But at some point in the evening, to “remove the hitchhiker from his area of residence”, the young man gave her an additional ride to the town of Westport, about 4 miles away. He then returned to his home.
Ms. Fee, now 28 miles from her home in Fort Bragg, must have been in a quandary. She could have stuck her thumb out and tried to hitch a ride on the dark highway. She could have tried to find an inconspicuous place to wait out the night in the town, hoping not to be seen until daylight, when a ride from a stranger might seem safer. But she apparently felt none of those options were good ones, so she chose another course of action.
She headed back up to Branscomb Road, apparently hiking the whole way, along the sometimes steep, and narrow road. After four miles, much of it uphill, she had returned to the young man’s home. Perhaps feeling that he owed her much more than a ride to the nearest town, she managed to get into his car and start it up. As she backed out of the driveway, and headed towards the road, the young man, with several friends, heard the car and they bolted after her. They stopped her at the end of his driveway, pulled her from the vehicle, and called the Sheriff’s office.
When deputies arrived, they took Ms. Fee into custody, but not before she tried to pass herself off as someone else with a false ID. She was arrested for vehicle theft and giving false information to an officer. Bail was set at $15,000. Perhaps in court the young victim of Anna Fee can explain why his good deed of giving a woman a ride and bringing her to his home, miles from her destination and any options for another ride, was a noble effort and not putting her into a dangerous situation. After all, there must be more to this story than an ungrateful hitchhiker stealing a guy’s car.