MENDOCINO COUNTY – The Sheriff’s department was summoned to a home in rural south Covelo to investigate a burglary just over a month ago. Deputies responded to the home along Fairbanks Lane, south of the main town of Covelo, on Sunday, July 26. The homeowners had returned to their house to find it had been burglarized, and identified several items that were missing. According to the Mendocino Sheriff’s office, the deputies took the report, noting the items missing, for their subsequent investigation.
Covelo is a small community in inland Mendcino County, about 30 miles east from the 101 Freeway, along Highway 162. The community is the home of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, but the property that was burglarized is south of the town, and not part of the tribal lands.
The deputy investigating the burglary and missing property developed several leads, some of which led to a couple in Calpella, a community 60 miles south of the burglary, nestled between the 101 Freeway and the Russian River, just west of Lake Mendocino. They were living at a place on North State Street called the Western Hills Mobile Home Park. With enough evidence to establish probable cause, deputies responded to the mobile home, where they found the two suspects, Sherrie Ann-Mercedes Petty and Steven Todd Lawson. reportedly hiding inside. Stolen property from the Covelo burglary was found, and the pair were arrested for felony burglary and probation violations.
Sherrie Petty was officially listed as a transient, though it appears she was living with Lawson in the mobile home. Earlier this year, however, she was residing in Willits. She has quite a history with the law in Mendocino County. In August of 2013, she was involved in a hit and run accident. When she was caught by Hopland Tribal police, she was found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia, and also arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Then in October, she was involved in another multi-vehicle traffic accident, and found to be in possession of stolen property.
That arrest was followed in December of 2013 with an arrest on multiple felonies involving identity theft. She was charged with burglary, forgery, unauthorized use of someone else’s personal identification, criminal conspiracy, and violating her probation. She was living in Redwood Valley at the time, which is just north of Calpella.
A year later she was living in Willits with a man named Rickey Wayne Phillips III at a home in the rural south east part of town. She and Phillips, whom she refers to in her social media posts as “Rickey Bobby”, were arrested on January 7, 2015. They were both charged with issuing a fraudulent check, and criminal conspiracy. She was also charged with false impersonation of another.
Rickey Phillips’ past includes a history of sometimes violent offenses. He was charged back in 2005 with providing a place to sell or use controlled substances. In February 2012 he was charged with a DUI. In November that year he was arrested for trespassing and making criminal threats. That incident may have led to his next charge of violating a domestic violence court order, along with a probation violation and being under the influence of a controlled substance. He was arrested for exhibiting a deadly weapon in April of 2014.
Sherrie Mercedes-Ann Petty maintains several “alter egos” on social media, including Facebook where she is also known as Madison Lewis, and You Tube, where she has a channel under the name Cambria Mitchell and posted a series of videos titled “Tweaker Diaries”. In those short films, Petty talks to the camera, sometimes with friends (including Steven Lawson), about things going on in her life. In one of them, titled “Tweaker Diaries WTF am I doing edition”, she captioned the film with a reflection on her life just prior to her arrest in January 2015. “This is in November 2014 before I went to jail the last time and I was dating somebody named Rickey Bobby I was depressed and shooting up dope and I was a hot [deleted] mess and was realizing I needed to get out of what the [deleted] I was doing or I was going to fall fast”
In another video, she mentions Steven Lawson, who, according to Facebook she had begun a relationship with in July of this year. “Me and Steven were waiting on somebody’s front porch for the guy that we had just given $60 – to return with our dope… They were taking forever and I was getting frustrated so I stole their cigarettes phone and lighter and left on foot to go find them I ended up finding them five minutes later driving toward the house but even when the opposite direction me so we smoked all the dope when we got to the house and Steven came back after the dope was smoked and he was pissed lol hoe games”. She posted most of the videos on August 19, after the burglary but prior to her latest arrest. They had apparently been filmed in the months prior to her putting them all on-line.
Steven Todd Lawson, for his part, prior to his involvement with Petty, was arrested at least twice, according to available records. In May of 2012, when he was 20, he was arrested for using or being under the influence of a controlled substance. But in January of this year, he was charged with a much more serious set of offenses – vehicle theft, petty theft, possessing stolen property, vandalism of over $5,000 in damage, being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.
Petty and Lawson were booked into the Mendocino County Jail on August 26 charged with felony burglary and probation violations. They are being held without bail pending court appearances. Detectives suspect that other suspects may have been involved in the Fairbanks burglary and others in the area. Some of the stolen property was recovered and returned to the owners, while the investigation continues.