‘Murder Mountain’, Garret Rodriguez and Ocean Beach

by on January 8, 2019 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Originally posted Jan. 8, 2019

Ocean Beach is in the very first scene of Murder Mountain – a new docuseries in 6 parts now streaming on Netflix – and we immediately view the iconic image of OB: the Ocean Beach Pier and surfers.

Yet apart from the beauty of the opening, the series is a tragic one – as it follows what happened to Garret Rodriguez, a 29-year old OB surfer – his trip up to northern California to cash in on the marijuana industry, his subsequent disappearance into Humboldt County and murder.

The OB Rag had been following Garret’s disappearance since July 2013 when we reposted an article from  Lost Coast Outpost by Kym Kemp. A number of OBceans responded in comments that they recall seeing him around OB. That December we published an update by Kemp – one year after his disappearance. Even then it looked like he had been murdered.

Then the bad news came around mid-December 2013: The Humboldt County Coroner had identified human remains located in a gravesite off of Jewett Ranch Road in Garberville, Humboldt County as those of Rodriguez.

Garret’s friends later in early February 2014 had a memorial service and a paddle-out for him in Ocean Beach.

Daily Beast did a review of Murder Mountain, and here’s a portion:

Through the search for clues in ]Garret’s] case—handled almost entirely by his family and a private investigator, in the face of an apathetic local police force—the series infiltrates the notoriously close-knit community of Alderpoint, shedding light on how this supposed Eden became a haven for criminality.

We come to know Rodriguez through his kindly father, who speaks in even tones about the green-eyed boy he bonded with through fishing and surfing in the San Diego neighborhood of Ocean Beach. … Garret had intended to work long-range fishing jobs for the cash, until he heard of a faster way to make more money—by harvesting cannabis for farmers up north. It seemed ideal, as it does to many “trimmigrants” who journey up to earn thousands for a month or two of work, then find themselves ensnared in a system more complex (and often more dangerous) than they bargained for.

Garret Rodriguez sittingNewcomers are often exploited, we learn, especially those without connections in Humboldt who find themselves working on illegal farms. Poor cell service makes it difficult to communicate, which is why Garret’s father only heard from his son about once every two weeks. And while Garret soon found himself thriving, in charge of a farmer’s entire crop, by the time he set foot in Alderpoint the town was far from the hippie refuge it had once been in the ’70s. Crackdowns on illegal marijuana farming in the ’80s had driven prices up. Heavy-handed police tactics drove gentler farmers away, according to residents, leaving the more criminal-minded behind. A medical marijuana law passed in 1993, meanwhile, heralded an influx of profiteers. All while Humboldt’s densely wooded, mountainous terrain made it easy for illegal operations to hide.

Garret Rodriguez xmas 2012

Photo of Garret Rodriguez taken during Christmas at Katrina LeBlanc’s home.

Within a year, Garret’s father stopped receiving calls from his son. By April 2013, he had reported him missing and grown frustrated with police.

The rest is history, now documented and on Netflix.

But check out our posts and those by Lost Coast Outpost – they include many details about Garret’s disappearance and the investigation that may or may not be in the docuseries.

Even back then Lost Coast Outpost writer Kym Kemp wrote about “Murder Mountain” – 5 years before Netflix – :

How did Rancho Sequoia become Murder Mountain?

Around 1968, the land which came to be known as Rancho Sequoia was subdivided in response to the proposed Yellow Jacket Dam. (Eureka Time Standard 1/29/68) The dam never materialized. The land was eventually subdivided into relatively small lots—many just 10 acres. The area soon became home to many people who came from out of the area to own their piece of paradise.

Like much of Southern Humboldt during the late Seventies and early Eighties, the area became known as a place for growing marijuana. Numerous raids were held in the subdivision over the years. Here’s one described from the point of view of people living there. Here’s a CAMP report (scroll to page 18.)

The name Murder Mountain probably came in response to a 1982 murder. There are also rumored to be other disappearances related to the area but below are three of the most well-known stories.

Clark Stephens, age 26, was murdered by Michael and Suzane Carson, on the 17th of May, 1982. The couple were serial killers who were convicted of three deaths but suspected of more. A book, Cry for War, was written about the lethal twosome. Here’s an excerpt about the murder from a contemporary newspaper.

Stephens, who allegedly worked on a marijuana farm near Garberville with the Carsons, was slain near the town of Alderpoint, Mrs. Carson said he was “a demon. He had to be killed.”

Garret Rodriguez sketch

Sketch drawn of Rodriguez forming “OB” with his fingers. Artist: Adrianne Boudway.

Carson said he shot Stephens twice in the head and once in the side and then burned the body and buried it beneath some chicken fertilizer.

See also here for another contemporary account. Here’s a video containing interviews with Carson’s daughter and ex-wife.

Another man missing and presumably dead in the area is Bobby Tennison. He was known locally as Builder Bob. He came frequently to Southern Humboldt. Reportedly he went to the Rancho Sequoia area to get paid for a construction job. He has not been seen since January 2009. See photos of Tennison below.

Interesting note: Just across the valley from Rancho Sequoia is the location of another famous death. Dirk Dickenson was killed while running from law enforcement in 1972.

 

 

 

 

 

Garret Rodriguez poster

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Vern January 8, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Tragic.
But city folks need to know their place and their limitations.

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Avatar lori saldana January 8, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Related: an article from 2016 that revealed the dangers women “trimmigants” encounter in this same area, and the difficulties of having their abuse investigated by law enforcement.

https://www.revealnews.org/article/in-secretive-marijuana-industry-whispers-of-abuse-and-trafficking/

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Avatar Kat M Stephenson January 14, 2019 at 9:36 am

I feel bad for Garret, Clark and Bob. Normal people who just wanted to make a buck, mind their own business, and get on home. But, when you put yourself out there, vulnerable to isolated areas with no cell phone service, highly rutted and rugged terrain roads that wind in and out of the mountains where no one can hear you, you sort of set yourself up to anything that can happen to you. I can imagine how many boy sand girls have actually been held against their will and being used as sex slaves and trimmers, getting very little food and are probably barefoot to prevent from running away. And even if they did run away, its literally miles and miles of mountain roads and you don’t know what direction to go to. You could literally run right into another deranged mind out there who sees you’re plight, no one knows where you are, can then you can be trapped all over again by new capters. Humboldt literally would scare the crap out of me being a small woman. These other woman who traveled from France, England and Australia, really placed themselves in such raw danger. Very interesting Docuseries, I finally got a glimpse from the safe walls of my home.

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Avatar Jaimie February 16, 2019 at 9:34 pm

Damn, he was fine.

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