The Union Democrat

Camping trip leads to death

Manslaught­er, elder abuse charges filed after woman found dead


A pair of Twain Harte men are accused of involuntar­y manslaught­er and elder abuse in the death of a woman whom the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office says they left camping alone in freezing overnight conditions over the weekend.

Russel Lee Hedge, 60, of the 23000 block of Twain Harte Drive, and Timothy Scott Hoblitt, 51, of the 23600 block of Highway 108, were arrested Tuesday after reporting the woman missing the previous afternoon.

Hedge and Hoblitt took the woman camping in the Fiddlers Green area of Herring Creek on Friday and left her there alone without transporta­tion on Saturday, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release late Tuesday.

The release said Hedge and Hoblitt knew about the freezing overnight temperatur­es and returned to the campsite on Sunday to retrieve the woman, but could not find her.

Instead of immediatel­y calling law enforcemen­t for assistance, the release said the men gathered the alleged victim’s belongings and left the area on Sunday and didn’t report her missing to the Sheriff’s Office until about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Sheriff’s search-andrescue personnel were immediatel­y activated and spent hours into Monday night looking for the woman to no avail until they resumed the search the following morning and found her deceased.

Detectives were called out to investigat­e and obtained a warrant to search Hedge’s home, where they found the woman’s cell phone, purse and other belongings, the release said.

The Sheriff’s Office identified the woman as a Tuolumne County resident in her 60s who was suffering from several ailments and had difficulty caring for herself, though her name was being withheld pending notificati­on of her family.

An autopsy was scheduled to determine her cause of death, the release said.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Niccoli Sandelin said that Hedge and the alleged victim knew each other, but whether

she had any connection to Hoblitt was not clear as of Wednesday morning.

Hedge and Hoblitt were booked into the Dambacher Detention Center in Sonora at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of involuntar­y manslaught­er and elder abuse resulting in death, both felonies. They remained behind bars Wednesday morning with bail set at $50,000 each.

The elevation in the Fiddler Greens area where the men and alleged victim went camping is about 7,400 feet, with overnight lows predicted to be in the 20s and low teens for the rest of this week.

Investigat­ors are looking for witnesses. Anyone who was in the Fiddlers Green area of Herring Creek between Friday and Monday is urged to call Detective Richard Donaldson at (209) 694-2910.

 ?? ?? Hoblitt
 ?? ?? Hedge

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States