INYOKERN— An 18-day manhunt in the mountains and desert of eastern Kern County came to an end on Saturday night, thanks to a brave convenience store manager.
According to the Kern County Sheriff’s office, murder and kidnapping suspect, 34-year-old Benjamin Peter Ashley, who eluded 150 officers from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Marshal Service for over three weeks, was killed in a shootout with deputies, just outside the small desert town of Inyokern on Saturday, August 15 at around 5:30 p.m.
“Deputies received a report at 4:50 p.m. from the manager of Brady’s Mini Mart at 4467 North Highway 395, saying the suspect had been there,” said KCSO Public Information Ray Pruitt. “When they arrived, deputies said they located a person matching the suspect’s description on a trail heading back to the foothills and to where the Pacific Crest Trail runs.”
When confronted, Ashley exchanged gunfire with two deputies. And when it was over, he lay dead on the ground.
Gary Welfl, the manager of Brady’s Mini Mart, told authorities a man matching the suspect’s description had entered his store carrying three duffle bags, wearing a backpack and holding a walking stick. He bought some junk food and left the store after about 10 minutes. “The manager spoke with the suspect, delaying him, while he texted his sister and told her to call 911,” Pruitt said.
Ashley, who is suspected of kidnapping and holding three men at a remote cabin in Twin Oaks on July 28, is also accused of murdering 64-year-old retired Tehachapi dentist David Louis Markiewitz, whose body was found on July 30 at his cabin in nearby Weldon.
Finally, Ashley is also believed to be the man who fired at two deputies on August 1, hitting one on both of his arms, after they entered a mobile home where he’d been hiding in Jawbone Canyon.
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