As the world turns it turned to an odd coincidence for me last week, pausing at a Redwood Valley man named Douglas Stone, Jr., a professional firefighter and well thought of by his community. But Stone had suddenly veered from the path of righteousness and had begun burglarizing his neighbors up and down the long length of Black Bart Trail.
Stone was only another face in the booking logs when the widow of a long-time ava subscriber invited me to cull her late husband's books, taking those I wanted. It was an offer I couldn't refuse. The house was deep in the hills of Redwood Valley, a beautiful place at 1900 feet with a 360 view that includes Lake Mendocino. Although I had meticulous directions, it took me a solid thirty minutes off Highway 20 to finally arrive, and when I did the first thing I saw were two large broken out windows in an otherwise perfectly maintained expanse of buildings, California poppies and old oak.
My hostess explained the windows. "A man broke in when I wasn't here, but he came back last Friday night when I was here. He broke in through the windows the first time.” The second time, she said it was about 10:30 when she saw headlights pulling up her driveway. "I was just going to sleep upstairs when I saw the lights and then heard someone fiddling with the front door. I have a gun but I couldn't ever shoot anybody, so I just kind of crouched by my bed up in the loft when he came all the way into my house. I told him I'd already called the police and they were on the way. He mumbled something like, 'I thought there was a fire here,' and he turned around and left. He sounded almost apologetic, and I thought, ‘Well, somebody in his life maybe taught him some manners.’”
The intruder turned out to be the previously referenced Mr. Stone, formerly a man of impeccable citizenship.
In his haste to flee the widow's home, Stone had run his truck off the road where he was still sitting amidst the plunder from previous intrusions when the deputy, having sped up the long, dusty Black Bart Trail past many other addresses of Stone’s robberies, spotted Black Bart’s spiritual descendant sitting dejectedly in his wrecked truck and arrested him.
Stone still had the loaded handgun and pry bar he’d entered the widow’s home with. At his home, deputies found a virtual treasure trove of stolen goods.
There is speculation that Stone had been unhinged by the recent departure of his wife from their marriage, that prior to her leaving he had functioned normally. Who can know? Stone probably doesn’t know himself.
My hostess had previously lost a laptop, a printer, a collection of rare coins, and two large windows to Stone. The coins have been recovered. The laptop, the printer and the expense of two large windows are borne by her.
So off the perp goes to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked and briefly held on $75,000.00 bail. Which he quickly posted. While Stone was being processed in and out of the jail, the cops were going through his Redwood Valley house where they found lots of stuff stolen from homes up and down the Black Bart Trail. Stone was then arrested a second time, this time graciously turning himself in.
And here's where the Stone case gets positively weird, as described best in the Sheriff's presser: "Stone was booked into the Mendocino County Jail a second time for Possession of Stolen Property, Unlawfully Possessing Marijuana for Sale, Manufacture of an Assault Rifle, Possession of an Assault Rifle, Possession of a Silencer, and Possession of Burglary tools. In accordance with the COVID-19 emergency order issued by the State of California Judicial Council, Stone's bail was set at zero dollars and he was released after the jail booking process…..”
Breaking into an elderly woman's home with a loaded gun gets you no bail and released? But Stone wasn’t finished. Two days after terrorizing the widow, Stone was out on that no bail when a friend of Stone’s goes over to Stone's house to return the dog he’d been babysitting for Stone. Stone greets his visitor by charging out of his house waving a butcher knife, threatening to kill the visitor, kill his dog, kill his ex-wife and her dog, and kill her new boy friend.
Stone was arrested a third time in as many days and bail was set at $275,000. As we went to press this week, the bandit of Black Bart Road was still in jail.
Sheriff’s Department Presser:
On Sunday, April 26, 2020 at approximately 10:20 PM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to contact an adult male regarding criminal threats.
Deputies learned the 46 year old adult male had traveled to the home of Douglas Stone Jr., 42, of Redwood Valley, in order to provide him with his dog, which he was caring for during Stone's previous incarceration the day prior.
When the adult male entered Stone's property, Stone exited his residence with a large butcher knife and threatened to kill the adult male. Stone also threatened to kill his own dog, as well as his ex-wife, and her new boyfriend.
The adult male was in sustained fear, and believed Stone was going to try to kill him, and attempt to find and kill the 27-year old ex-wife and 29 year old new boyfriend as stated.
Stone also made statements to the adult male that if any law enforcement personnel were to come to his residence, he would kill them as well.
On Monday, April 27, 2020, Deputies obtained an arrest warrant for Stone for Criminal Threats and Committing a Felony while released on Bail.
Later that day at approximately 5:00 PM, Stone turned himself in to a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy. Stone was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $275,000 bail.