The small town of Covelo is located in the inland valley of Mendocino County, between the Coastal Ranges and Mendocino National Forest. With a population of around 1400 people, it consists of mostly rural farmland, and is the home of the Round Valley Tribe of native Americans. Being a small community, many of the people there know each other, and the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office has had it’s hands full with some of the residents, like Franklin Iron Bear Oliver.
Oliver’s history with the law goes back to at least 2009, when he was 19-years-old. According to a report from the Willits News, he and two other young men, Luis John Oliver and Leonard Dudley Whipple Jr. were accused of assaulting two brothers at their home on Yuki Circle on February 12, near where Franklin lived at the time. The three pelted the victims with rocks and sticks, and when a neighbor came to help, they turned on him too, and struck him with a large branch. They threatened to come back with guns if any of them called police. Whipple was caught that day, and Luis Oliver was arrested two weeks later. Franklin Oliver wasn’t captured until July 7, however when he was charged with attempted murder for his part in the assaults.
Records show that a few months later, on November 19, 2009, Oliver was arrested again for driving under the influence, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and selling, transporting or furnishing marijuana. The next year he was charged once with another DUI, and once with possession of a controlled substance. (Luis Oliver and Leonard Whipple both have extensive histories of arrests in the area as well.)
According to Lieutenant Kirk Mason of the Mendocino Sheriff’s Department, Oliver became the suspect of a recent armed robbery, and a no bail arrest warrant was issued for him. On Tuesday, September 1, deputies located Oliver at his home on Hopper Lane in Covelo. He was arrested at 10 am, and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of armed robbery, and possession of a controlled substance. He is being held without bail pending his court appearance.
According to “IronBear” Oliver’s Facebook page, he is friends with two other Covelo residents who recently made headlines. Two days before Oliver was arrested, on Sunday, August 30, deputies from the Sheriff’s Department arrested two people in connection with a series of burglaries in the town. According to Sergeant Mike Davis, the investigation led them to the home of Sammie Snow Leggett, a 41-year-old resident of a home on Henderson Road, in west Covelo where the rural fields become forested land, and the winding road heads out of the valley.
Leggett’s history of arrests includes an unspecified warrant arrest on January 3 of 2014 by Ukiah police when she lived there. Later that month she was charged with vehicle theft. On June 30 of 2014 she was arrested once again, for failing to appear in court on her previous charges, and possession of methamphetamine.
The deputies arrived at her home at 9:00 on Sunday, August 30 for a probation check, and in search of a stolen firearm and other evidence from the recent burglaries.
What they found was 32-year-old Gabriel Bowes hiding in the bathroom. Bowes was already identified as a “person of interest” in the burglaries, and had a warrant out for probation violations. A search of the rest of the house turned up the stolen 9mm handgun and ammunition in the bedroom.
Gabriel Azbill Bowes, also known as Gabriel Wayne Bowes, has his own extensive history with local law enforcement. Available records going back to 2007 show he was arrested in March of that year for possession of a narcotic controlled substance and paraphernalia, being under the influence, and driving with a suspended license for a past DUI. The next month he was charged with failure to appear in court, along with possession of narcotics, paraphernalia, and a hypodermic needle. In February of 2008 he was charged with battery, resisting arrest, giving false information to an officer, and violating probation. He faced probation violation arrests later in 2008 and 2010.
In July of 2011 he was involved in an incident with his brother, Ira Blue Bowes, when they came to the home of the Hanover family in Covelo on a Saturday night when they were eating dinner. According to a story in the Willits News, it was the day after the Round Valley Tribal Police had broken up a showdown between members of the Bowes and Hanover families. After calling them out, Gabriel Bowes challenged Josh Hanover to fight. As the two fought with fists, Hanover was prevailing, and Ira Bowes started to step in. Kenneth Hanover, Josh’s 44-year-old father, told Ira to back off, and Ira pulled a gun and shot the man, striking him in the jaw and shoulder. Gabriel had reportedly given his brother the gun before the fight.
The Bowes brothers fled, and Kenneth Hanover was airlifted to Santa Rosa for treatment, including surgery. Ira was found at his brother Daniel Lucas Bowes’ home, and arrested for attempted murder and committing a crime while released on bail. Daniel Bowes was arrested as well for a parole violation warrant. Gabriel was soon found and arrested for assault with a firearm, exhibiting a firearm in a threatening manner, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and criminal conspiracy.
So after the well-known Bowes was found in Sammi Leggett’s home last Sunday, he was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, along with a no-bail arrest warrant, and he remains a suspect in the burglaries. Sammi Leggett was arrested for harboring a wanted suspect, and released with a promise to appear in court. Two days later, on September 2, Ms. Leggett posted her comment on the incident to her Facebook page. She said “For those whom r so concerned with wut I do…NO I didn’t go to jail n so wut if I did how does anything I do affect any of u? Hmmm it don’t so stay out of my business n worry about ur own..u shud live ur life to the fullest n cherish ur loved ones while u can instead of hating on others..you no wen I see u face to face its a different story twofaced haters wit nothing better to do…sad..”