UPDATE, 2:46 p.m.:
Notes from the EPD:
On January 29th 2018, Wesley Lee Starritt (19 at the time) was arrested by the Eureka Police Department (EPD) for assault with a deadly weapon after he stabbed a 59-year-old male near the 2000 block of 3 rd Street in Eureka. That investigation revealed that Starritt had walked up to the victim and began stabbing him without saying anything. The victim fought him off and chased after him, allowing officers to respond and locate Starritt. The assault was unprovoked and the two men did not know each other. The victim survived the assault and Starritt was convicted and served his sentence.
On March 1st 2020, Starritt was released from Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles and returned to Eureka.
On April 20th 2020, at about 1:20 a.m. a 43-year-old male was walking near the 1900 block of Holly Street in Eureka. That address is in the County and is the jurisdiction of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO). He was approached by another male who began stabbing him for no reason. The attack was unprovoked and only ended when the suspect’s knife broke, rendering it useless. The broken knife blade was left at the scene.
That victim survived but was gravely wounded during the attack. The two men did not know each other. Any further questions about this incident should be forwarded to the HCSO.
On May 13th 2020, at about 8:30 p.m., EPD responded to Cooper Gulch in Eureka for the report of a stabbing. When officers arrived, they found a 38-year-old female victim with multiple stab wounds. That investigation revealed a white male in his early twenties approached the female victim and assaulted her with a knife. The assault was unprovoked and only ended when the suspect’s knife broke, rendering it useless. The broken knife blade was left at the scene. The two did not know each other. The victim survived but was gravely wounded during the attack.
On May 20 th 2020, at about 7:35 p.m., family members found 84-year-old Roger Mitchell “Mitch” Clark deceased in his family home. EPD officers responded and it was immediately evident that Clark had been murdered.
EPD had their entire Detective unit respond to begin investigating as well as several Crime Scene Technicians. The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office (HCDA) responded to consult with detectives as well. Investigators worked for almost 22 hours processing the crime scene. Clark had been stabbed with a knife and a broken blade was found at the scene of the crime.
As the investigation unfolded there was no clear suspect, and the motive for the crime was not immediately apparent. EPD Criminal Investigation Detectives as well as EPD’s Problem Oriented Policing (POP) Detectives worked together following up on leads and contacting people who knew Clark. Detectives began following up on two stabbings that occurred recently in the county.
On May 23 rd 2020, an autopsy was performed on Clark, and the Medical Examiner confirmed it was a homicide. Detectives worked through the weekend trying to identify a suspect. Part of this process for investigators is to look at people who may have known the victim and wanted to do him harm. Detectives learned in fairly short order that Clark was almost universally beloved and respected by everyone that knew him. At the same time Detectives were also looking at motives for someone who did not know Clark, but may have committed the crime for another reason. This process is known as victimology.
On May 26 th 2020, at about 9:00 a.m., EPD Detectives and Evidence Technicians met with HCSO Detectives, the Deputy Coroner, a DA Investigator and the FBI. Details of Clark’s homicide were shared. Investigators also shared details of the other stabbings that had occurred in the community. During this meeting new investigative details were discovered.
At about 12:30 p.m., EPD Detectives became aware of video being shared on social media. The video depicted a white male adult walking up to the front door of a residence and trying the door handle. The male was carrying a knife in his right hand.
Once he found the door locked he left. The residence was in close proximity to the Clark homicide.
EPD Detectives recognized and identified the male in the video as 22-year-old Wesley Lee Starritt. POP Detectives initiated an investigation on Starritt and developed probable cause to issue an arrest warrant. Their investigation had revealed that Starritt had been in possession of a firearm, which he was prohibited from possessing as a convicted felon. He had also possessed a knife, and had violated his probation.
Based on the seriousness of the threat to public safety and the possibility there was more to Starritt’s involvement in other recent crimes, the EPD utilized two different investigative units to bring him swiftly into custody. The Humboldt County Drug Task Force (DTF) was called in to conduct surveillance on Starritt’s Campton Drive residence.
The EPD POP team began checking known locations attempting to locate him.
At about 7:50 p.m., EPD POP Detectives located Starritt in a vehicle being driven near Henderson and ‘S’ Street in Eureka. Starritt was taken into custody without incident. He was interviewed by EPD Detectives.
At about 10:20 p.m., a search warrant was served at Starritt’s Campton Drive residence. Evidence from Clark’s homicide was found inside the residence.
Shortly after midnight on May 27, 2020, Starritt was booked on the arrest warrant for felon in possession of a firearm and probation violation.
Since Starritt’s arrest, EPD Detectives and Evidence Technicians have worked tirelessly building probable cause and prioritizing evidence processing to arrest Starritt for the murder of Clark.
On June 2nd 2020, EPD Detectives had developed enough probable cause to arrest Starritt for Clark’s homicide. In addition, probable cause was developed to arrest Starritt for the May 13, 2020 attempted homicide of the 38-year-old female victim from Cooper Gulch. He is being held at the HCCF on a 1.585-million-dollar bail.
The Eureka Police Department would like the thank the following people and investigative units for their involvement with these investigations. Law enforcement is like a team sport in that we always rely on other people to solve a case of this magnitude. The teamwork demonstrated in these investigations brought an unknown criminal to light and most likely saved lives.
o Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department Detectives and Deputies
o Humboldt County Deputy Coroner
o Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office
o Humboldt County Drug Task Force
o Federal Bureau of Investigations
o All the citizens who phoned in with tips
— Hank Sims
UPDATE, 2:17 p.m.:
The press conference has ended. Mitch Clark’s son closed by saying that his father was a “long-standing and well liked member of the community.” He gave his thanks to police for investigating and solving the case.
“This is an important first step in bringing peace back into the community and the rest of our lives,” said Mitch Clark, Jr.
— Hank Sims
UPDATE, 2:13 p.m.:
Watson began the press conference by outlining previous assaults that Starritt had convicted of and committed for, and mentions the previously unsolved stabbing assault of a woman in Cooper Gulch, for which he is now a suspect.
A large investigation ensued after the murder of Mitch Clark in his home last month, which included the FBI and other agencies. After this investigation was launched, a post was identified on social media of someone coming up to a different door near the victim’s home on Campton Road shortly after the killing. From this video, Starritt was identified. He was tracked down and arrested, at which point more evidence linking him to the crime was uncovered.
“It appears his motive in this crimes may have been simply to kill,” Watson said, before calling Starritt “a serial killer in the making.”
— Hank Sims
- HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION: Death of 84-Year-Old Man on Campton Road Deemed ‘Suspicious’; Eureka Police Searching for Suspects
- Eureka Police Arrest ‘Person of Interest’ in Last Week’s Campton Road Homicide Investigation
- Criminal Proceedings Against Campton Road Murder Suspect Delayed After Attorney Questions His Mental Competence
Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson is offering an update on the arrest of Wesley Lee Starritt, the suspect in the murder of a Campton Road resident late last month.
Watson said that the update will reveal a “portrait of pure evil.”