Ex-Falls resident believed to have been murdered in California

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in California reports that an investigation into an assault and possible murder has detectives searching for the remains of a former Seneca Falls resident.On May 18th at approximately 7:08 pm deputies in Mendocino County were called to a possible physical assault that had occurred the previous day at a residence located at the 23500 block of Road 337D (known locally as Charlie Hurt Highway) in Covelo, California.Upon arrival, deputies found evidence of a physical assault and contacted potential witnesses. During this initial investigation, deputies learned that Joshua Richard Ruoff had been witnessed assaulting Timothy William Sweeting with a blunt object on May 17th.Deputies then began a missing person’s investigation into Sweeting’s whereabouts, but he had no contact with family or friends since the alleged physical assault. Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau responded to the residence where the scene was further examined.The scene was processed with the assistance of investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office and criminalists from the California Department of Justice. During the follow-up investigations, Sweeting was not located and was considered to be a missing person, according to authorities in California. The circumstances through which he went missing were considered “suspicious.”On May 19th Sweeting’s vehicle was located on Mendocino Pass Road, parked on the side of the roadway about a mile from the residence where the alleged assault took place. As the investigation continued, it was learned that Ruoff had rented a U-Haul truck and left the area for New Hampshire, where he had previously resided.Detectives contacted the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit and requested their assistance.The investigation continued and evidence was gathered, including witness statements and physical evidence that supported the belief that Ruoff had murdered Sweeting and disposed of his body.Initially, a felony arrest warrant was sought and issued for Ruoff for felony assault with a deadly wapon, and on May 23rd the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office filed charges seeking an arrest warrant for murder against Ruoff.On May 23rd, Ruoff was located by the New Hampshire State Police Narcotics and Investigations Unit in Concord, New Hampshire.Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives traveled to New Hampshire on May 23rd and continued investigations for two days with the assistance of the New Hampshire State Police.Multiple search warrants were served by the New Hampshire State Police at the request of the Sheriff’s Detectives.During the two days in New Hampshire additional evidence was gathered to support the belief Ruoff had murdered Sweeting.Ruoff was booked into the Merrimack County Jail (Concord, New Hampshire) where he was to be held on a no bail status. He challenged extradition to Mendocino County and the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office is working on getting him extradited to Mendocino County.At this time investigators say the remains of Sweeting have not been located and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who may have information about this case to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau.FingerLakes1.com has reached out to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and will have more on this story as it develops.

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