UPDATE: Death of Woman Whose Body was Found in Hit-and-Run Suspect’s Van Ruled Accidental

UPDATE: Death of Woman Whose Body was Found in Hit-and-Run Suspect’s Van Ruled Accidental

UPDATE (January 4, 2023): The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has announced the Chief Deputy Coroner’s finding that Randolph’s death was accidental. Her cause of death was found to be acute combined diazepam, nordiazepam, and morphone toxicity.

Mendocino County authorities have begun a suspicious death investigation in connection with a deceased person discovered in a van that was originally towed and stored after a hit-and-run collision.

According to a press release, the initial investigation began on the afternoon of October 8, when California Highway Patrol officers responded to the scene of a reported traffic collision in the area of Sherwood Road and Birch Terrace in Willits. The driver of one of the vehicles, later identified as 26-year-old Root Harvest Birimisa, reportedly fled the scene prior to officers’ arrival.

The vehicle Birimisa had been driving, described as a Toyota Sienna van, was located a short distance away soon afterward, unoccupied. The van was ultimately towed and stored at the direction of Mendocino County deputies. The driver of the other vehicle, who remained at the scene, provided a description of Birimisa.

Birimisa was soon located walking along Birch Street and taken into custody on suspicion of hit-and-run and driving under the influence.

The following day, the Eureka Police Department in Humboldt County opened a missing persons investigation into the disappearance of 53-year-old Christine Anne Randolph, a resident of the area. Randolph’s family had reportedly become concerned for her safety after Birimisa was arrested. Investigators learned that Birimisa is Randolph’s son, and that the two had been known to travel together frequently.

The investigation soon came to comprise a multi-jurisdictional collaboration involving several law enforcement agencies, including Eureka PD, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Fortuna PD, the California Highway Patrol, California State Parks, and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office also joined the investigation, and assisted Eureka Police officers in searching Birimisa’s van after they had obtained a search warrant for it in connection with the missing persons investigation. After removing a significant number of personal belongings from the van, such as clothing, luggage, and living supplies, investigators reportedly discovered the body of a deceased female adult hidden within a section of concaved flooring.

The body was positively identified as Randolph. At that point, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office took charge of the investigation into how she died. A forensic autopsy was scheduled for October 14, but the results have yet to be released.

The investigation remains active and ongoing.

UPDATE: Death of Woman Whose Body was Found in Hit-and-Run Suspect’s Van Ruled Accidental was last modified: January 4th, 2024 by admin
Categories: Mendocino

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Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a California based writer/reporter covering both national and local crime and arrest news, with a primary focus on the Northern California area.