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‘Dangerous’ man sought in missing-person case is caught in Mendocino County

Arrest in case of Wendy Pullins, whom investigators believe to have been killed


The man sought in the homicide of Wendy Pullins, who disappeared last year during what was supposed to be a short drive in the Sierra Nevada foothills, was arrested Monday in Mendocino County.

Wendy Pullins
Wendy Pullins (Family photo via Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office) 

Three weeks ago, the sheriff’s office in Mariposa County had asked the public’s help in finding the 42-year-old man, whom it called armed and dangerous.

The announcement did not specify his connection to Pullins, a 57-year-old Ahwahnee woman who was reported missing on June 18, 2022.

She had last been seen three days earlier, before heading off toward Mariposa, 25 miles away, to register her vehicle.

She reportedly planned to stay the night at a friend’s home on Stumpfield Mountain Road, off Highway 49 between Ahwahnee and Mariposa. Her cellphone location indicated she left the friend’s house, but she never made it to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Mariposa County sheriff’s office said.

About two months later, her Jeep Cherokee was found down a steep embankment in a remote area of Mariposa County, the sheriff’s office said. Pullins’ body was not found, but blood found in the SUV was determined to be hers.

No developments were reported in the case for more than a year, then the sheriff’s office issued a flurry of announcements:

• Sept. 26, 2023: It was announced that investigators believed Pullins to have been killed.

• Oct. 4: The sheriff’s office asked for the public’s help in finding a Subaru Outback believed to be connected to the case.

• Oct. 10: It was announced that the Subaru had been found.

• Oct. 25: The sheriff’s office released the name, photo and description of a man they said was tied by “credible information” to Pullins’ murder.

On Monday, Nov. 13, law enforcement officers saw the suspect getting into the passenger seat of a car in Willits. The vehicle was followed about half a mile, and then officers from Mendocino, Lake and Mariposa counties closed in on it and  “performed a high-risk enforcement stop,” said a statement from the Mendocino County sheriff’s office.

The driver, said to be a relative of the suspect’s, obeyed commands to get out of the car, but the suspect did not. A dog was “deployed into the vehicle,” and the man was removed.

He was taken to Mendocino County Jail on a felony murder arrest warrant pending extradition to Mariposa County, the sheriff said.