Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office press release:
On 05-18-2016 at approximately 7:08 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were called regarding a possible physical assault that occurred the previous day at a residence located in the 23500 block of Road 337D (Also known as Charlie Hurt Highway] in Covelo, California.
Upon arrival, Deputies found evidence of a physical assault and contacted potential witnesses. During this initial investigation, Deputies learned Joshua Richard Ruoff had been witnessed assaulting Timothy William Sweeting with a blunt object on 05-17-2016.
Deputies began a missing persons investigation regarding as Sweeting’s whereabouts were unknown and he had no recent contacted with family or friends since the alleged physical assault.
Sweeting’s vehicle, a white 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe was missing and Ruoff’s whereabouts were also unknown.
Detectives from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau responded to the residence where the scene was further examined.
The scene was processed with the assistance of investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office and criminalists from the California Department of Justice.
During the follow up investigations, Sweeting was not located and was considered to be a missing person under suspicious circumstances.
On 05-19-2016 Sweeting’s vehicle was located on Mendocino Pass Road, parked on the side of the roadway about a mile from the residence.
As the investigation continued, it was learned Ruoff had rented a U-Haul truck and left the area for the state New Hampshire, where he previously resided.
Detectives contacted the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit and requested their assistance.
The investigation continued and evidence was gathered, including witness statements and physical evidence that supported the belief that Ruoff had murdered Sweeting and disposed of his body.
Initially a felony arrest warrant was sought and issued for Ruoff for felonious assault with a deadly weapon, and on 05-23-2016 the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office filed charges seeking an arrest warrant for murder against Ruoff.
On 05-23-2016 the New Hampshire State Police Narcotics and Investigations Unit located and arrested Ruoff in Concord, New Hampshire.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives traveled to New Hampshire on 05-23-2016 and continued investigations for 2 days with the assistance of the New Hampshire State Police.
Multiple search warrants were served by the New Hampshire State Police at the request of the Sheriff’s Detectives.
During the two days in New Hampshire additional evidence was gathered to support the belief Ruoff had murdered Sweeting.
Ruoff was booked into the Merrimack County Jail (Concord, New Hampshire) where he was to be held on a no bail status. Ruoff was challenging extradition to Mendocino County and the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office is working on getting him extradited to Mendocino County.
At this time, the remains of Sweeting have not been located and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who may have information about this case to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau.
If anybody, particularly in the Covelo area sees anything suspicious they are encouraged to call the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at 707-463-4089, or call the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Tip line at 707-234-2100.