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Triple murder victims in drug deal gone bad ID'd

February 6, 2013 7:16:16 PM PST
The murders of three people in a rural neighborhood near Sebastopol are connected to a drug deal that went sour. Sheriff's investigators confirmed that on Wednesday. Investigators said the three victims came to the area to deal marijuana.

SKY7 HD was over the house on Ross Station Road Tuesday afternoon as the bodies were discovered inside one of the bedrooms of a rented house.

Hours before the sheriff's announcement, neighbors told me they suspected drugs were involved.

"Well, you can look around," neighbor Martin Bonacorso said. "You know what Sonoma County brings, especially in these areas, marijuana grow."

Neighbor Ray Cronkhite added, "I mean, who wants to wipe out three people who could be that bad unless it was drug related."

On Wednesday afternoon Lt. Dennis O'Leary with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department confirmed their suspicions, saying, "At this point in our investigation based on clues and evidence collected at the scene we now believe that this was a marijuana drug deal that resulted in the deaths of the three victims."

The sheriff's spokesman said neighbors have good reason for their suspicions.

"Most of our violent crime is related to marijuana, the theft of marijuana, the growing of marijuana," O'Leary said.

Lt. O'Leary says.one of the victims, 26-year-old Raleigh Butler of Truckee, came here to his mother's house while she was away. Officials say he brought with him two other partners -- 46-year-old Richard Lewin of Huntington, New York, and 42-year-old Todd Klarkowski of Boulder, Colorado.

All three were at the house in an attempt to buy what the sheriff's department describes as a significant amount of pot.

On Tuesday afternoon the department got a 911 phone call. Raleigh Butler's brother had gone to the house to check on his brother. He and his girlfriend discovered the bodies.

People living near the house told deputies they had heard what sounded like shots around midday but didn't investigate.

Lt. O'Leary told reporters the department has some leads, "We are working on leads and we're working on, you know, interviewing associates of the three victims and I think we're going to leave it at that."

And they did leave it at that. Though, they have put together quite a bit in the past 24 hours. On Thursday investigators will learn more as the autopsy reveals what sort of gun or guns were used in the killings.


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