Sixth person arrested in fatal beating of Mendocino County pot farm operator

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A sixth person has been arrested in connection with the fatal beating of the operator of a pot farm in Mendocino County, authorities said.

Jesse Cole Wells, 33, was taken into custody about 4 p.m. Friday in South Lake Tahoe on an arrest warrant on suspicion of murder and robbery, according to Sgt. Andrew Porter of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. He remains in custody in lieu of $650,000 bail.

The Laytonville, Calif., resident is one of seven marijuana trimmers suspected of robbing and killing Jeffrey Quinn Settler in November, according to the sheriff’s office. All but one suspect has been arrested. Authorities are still looking for Gary Blank III. The 34-year-old Garberville, Calif., resident is thought to have fled the state.


Wells’ arrest comes months after sheriff’s detectives visited the Lake Tahoe area in late 2016 to investigate tips about his whereabouts, Porter said in a statement.

According to authorities, Wells had been frequenting casinos in the area.

“Evidence was discovered that Wells had indeed been in Lake Tahoe casinos, however Wells was not located at that time,” he said in the statement.

But sheriff’s detectives continued to receive information about Wells in the Lake Tahoe area. Then on Thursday, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department found Wells living in a home in the city.

According to Porter, Wells and the other suspects were hired by Settler to trim marijuana plants and buds for his commercial marijuana operation on a rural property in the 49000 block of North Highway 101.

Authorities said the men had conspired to steal the marijuana, which had already been processed for sale.

After trimming plants for the day, the men returned to the remote grounds in the early hours of Nov. 11, the sergeant said. The men knew the marijuana was stored in Settler’s sleeping quarters, so they entered the structure and attacked him, Porter said.


The men also stole more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana, he said.

Later that day, someone reported Settler’s death.

Deputies went to the property and found the 35-year-old native of Bethel Island, Calif., dead.

Anyone with information about Blank is urged to call the sheriff’s office’s investigative services unit at (707) 463-4421 or the tip line at (707) 234-2100.

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