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3 suspects in slaying of popular tantra yoga teacher await extradition

APphoto_Hiking Trail Killing

An image from a gas station surveillance camera shows two men and a woman around the victim’s vehicle.

(Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

Beloved tantra yoga teacher Steve Carter’s killing was on its way to becoming another unsolved mystery in rural Marin County before the power of social and mainstream media was tapped, authorities say.

Shot to death late Monday afternoon on a dusty hiking trail in Fairfax, an unincorporated part of the county, Carter’s death was puzzling because there were no clear motive, no witnesses and no weapon left at the scene.

But after announcing the crime on Twitter and pleading for leads from the public through local media, the tips poured in -- hundreds of them in just 36 hours, estimated Sheriff’s Lt. Doug Pittman.

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“I’ve been in law enforcement over 31 years and this is really the first time I’ve seen that new technology and working with the media, especially social media, was instrumental in the apprehension,” Pittman said Thursday. “This would’ve taken many days, weeks or maybe even months without the cooperation of the public.”

Carter, 67, was shot sometime before 6 p.m. Monday, Pittman said. He was on his daily hike with his Doberman Pinscher when someone shot  him several times in the head.  His dog also was shot but survived.

By Wednesday, investigators had identified his alleged killers, used GPS to track Carter’s stolen car to Portland and alerted officers in the area.

About 2 p.m. Wednesday, Portland police arrested Morrison Lampley, 23; Sean Angold, 24, and Lila Alligood, 18, in connection with Carter’s killing.

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For the Record

Oct. 9, 10:24 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled the first name of Morrison Lampley as Marrison. It also misspelled the last name of Lila Alligood as Allgood.

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None had California IDs or permanent addresses. Local media described them as drifters but Pittman said a more accurate term would be “lost souls” who wanted to live off the grid.

“So many people came forward. Any one of them may have been insignificant, but [combined] they painted a clearer picture,” Pittman said.

Detectives haven’t divulged a possible motive for Carter’s killing; he had no apparent enemies, Pittman said.

Carter was a tantra yoga teacher who, until last year, worked with couples in the area and even hosted classes at a nearby clothing-optional resort, the Associated Press reported. He and his wife retired to Costa Rica but returned to Marin County this year when she was diagnosed with cancer and began receiving treatment locally. They were staying with friends when Carter was killed, Pittman said.

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“He was a well-loved individual who made an impact in many people’s lives,” Pittman said. “He was referred to as the kind of person everyone would like.”

Detectives’ investigation into Carter’s death led them to a gas station miles away, where video showed the trio fueling up Carter’s car about 30 minutes after he was believed to have been shot. During the arrest, Portland police recovered a handgun detectives believe was used in the killing.

Marin County sheriff’s deputies arrived in the city Wednesday night and began to interview the three. They could be extradited to California by next week, he said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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