Woman accused of killing 4 at tribal meeting is due in court today

The woman suspected of a shooting and stabbing rampage that left four people dead a tribal council meeting last week in Northern California is expected to appear in court Tuesday to face murder charges.

Cherie Lash Rhoades, 44, faces charges of murder, attempted murder and child endangerment after police say she was spotted fleeing the scene Thursday on foot with a knife still in her hand. Among the four people killed were her brother, 19-year-old niece, 30-year-old nephew and the tribal administrator. Two others were hospitalized in serious condition.

The killing occurred at a council meeting at the Cedarville Rancheria tribe's headquarters in Altura. Accused of embezzling money and betraying her own, Rhoades had faced eviction from the rancheria.

The killings left the former cattle town of 2,800 reeling and questioning how a close-knit community where everyone knows most everyone had failed to see any signs of the coming explosion.

A Bureau of Indian Affairs official said there were about 18 adults at the meeting and some children. 

The tribal headquarters is a small, single-story building with a day-care center. A handful of children, including a 5-day-old infant, were at the center during the shooting.

The small rancheria "pretty much lost their leadership" as a result of the rampage, Alturas Mayor John Dederick told The Times.

Cedarville Rancheria is a small, federally recognized tribe of 35 people, most of whom live on its 26-acre reservation. It is one of a number of tribes that fall under the umbrella of Northern Paiutes, whose territory includes parts of California, Oregon, Nevada and Idaho.

Police said two semiautomatic handguns were found at the scene of the killings.


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