An elderly Brookings couple was found shot to death in their Fourth Street home Monday, and their adopted grandson who was last seen driving their car has been detained by Crescent City authorities.
A Brookings real estate agent discovered the bodies of Edward Leroy Hoenshell, 77, and Dorothy Hoenshell, 72, at about 2:30 p.m. Monday at 717 Fourth St., said Brookings Police Detective John Bishop.
A suspect had not been named in the case by late Tuesday, but Bishop said the couples grandson, Gregory Arthur Hoenshell, 21, had been sought as a person of interest in the crime.
Hoenshell was arrested at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday on Pacific Avenue in Crescent City on five outstanding Del Norte County warrants charging cruelty to a child, assault and battery, cruelty to animals, forgery, resisting arrest and burglary.
Bishop said he interviewed Hoenshell at the Del Norte County Jail.
Hoenshell was seen driving his grandparents car in Brookings shortly before their bodies were found, Bishop said.
The vehicle, a burgundy 1992 Buick, was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Super 8 Motel in Crescent City by California Highway Patrol officers at 9:30 p.m. Monday. Hoenshell had not registered there, according to the motel.
On Tuesday, authorities were not releasing many details surrounding the deaths because of the on-going investigation, but they did say others were being sought for questioning.
There are some other persons of interest down in California in the Crescent City area and we are looking for them at this time, said Detective David L. Gardiner of the Curry County Major Crimes Team.
It is unknown how many times the couple were shot or what kind of weapon was used, Bishop said. There was no known motive as of Tuesday afternoon, he said.
He said an autopsy at the Central Point Crime Laboratory is planned for today (April 11).
Crescent City Police had a Crescent City home on Mason Court staked out early Tuesday morning. Their actions are believed to be connected to the homicide investigation.
A Crescent City acquaintance of Hoenshells, who asked not to be identified but who also was interviewed by police, said she saw Hoenshell twice on Monday.
First, he came by here at 9 a.m. driving their car, she said. I asked him how he got the car and he said he argued with them (his grandparents) for a while and they finally gave in.
Hoenshell then gave the woman a ride to a baby sitting appointment she had. She claims to have later seen Hoenshell at around 2 p.m. at the Elk Valley Casino where he asked her for money.
He asked me for a dollar to play one of the machines. I gave him a couple of bucks. The woman didnt learn of the deaths until later that evening.
He didnt act weird well By his standards he seemed fine anyway.
Sherri Estelle, the stepmother to Hoenshells siblings, said she was shocked by the news of the deaths.
These were very nice, loving, compassionate people. They loved the Lord, Estelle said. I was in a car accident in Medford and they were the only family that came over to see me.
I pray in my heart and soul that Greg (Hoenshell) is in no relation to this crime. I know he has a fear of going to prison. Hes had a lot of trouble with the law, Estelle said.
Harbor resident Abigail Estelle, Dorothy Hoenshells daughter, said Tuesday she wasnt so sure about Gregs innocence.
Im very confused, she said. Were still sitting here wondering what happened and why.
John Gordon, Dorothy Hoenshells son, said, Im angry but I dont really know at what.
Both Gordon and Abigail Estelle conceded that Gregory Hoenshell may have either done it or been involved with someone who did.
I cant really speculate, but everything points to Greg, Gordon said. I cant see him killing them and being OK with it.
He said that Greg had recently become involved with an extreme racists group, possibly the Aryan Brotherhood. Maybe someone with that group is responsible, he said.
Estelle was a little more direct about Gregs connection to the murders.
The guns in my mothers house were missing and Greg was driving her car, she said, then added, And there is his history of drug use.
According to Curry County court records, Gregory Hoenshell was convicted in 1999 of first-degree theft and first-degree burglary.
Carol Lute, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in Brookings, found the murdered couple after she let herself into their home to show clients the house.
I rang the doorbell, and rang the doorbell, and rang the doorbell, but there was no answer. I could hear the television inside, Lute said.
She went back to the office to get the lockbox key so she could let her clients in. When they returned to the house, Lute rang the bell again, then unlocked the door and entered the house.
I yelled out Anybody there?, Lute said. There was no answer so I figured it was safe to go in.
She went in ahead of the couple and saw Edward Hoenshell laying still on the dining room floor.
I know that he had had a stroke in the past, so I thought we could help him until I saw the wife, Lute said.
She was laying in the dinning room. She had blood on the side of her head and face, Lute said. I told (the client) theres the wife, back up, back up.
I made a bee line to my car and used my car phone to call 911, she said. I didnt know they were dead at the time, but they looked dead.
Police arrived within 10 minutes, Lute said.
They asked me questions and then several officers went into the house, she said. One officer came back out and said Whoa, looks like we got a double homicide.
Lute went to the police station, where she answered questions for about an hour, she said.
The whole thing shook me up, Lute said.
Brookings interim chief of police, Chris Wallace, said Tuesday he was pleased with the outcome Monday.
Weve had a lot of help with the agencies in California, Wallace said. I think its outstanding to see this kind of mutual aid and have agencies come together like this.
Curry County District Attorney Charlie Steak on Tuesday said the last homicide occurred in 1998, when Michael George stabbed 9-year-old Justin Lang in Brookings.
Pilot reporter Scott Graves and Triplicate reporter Kent Gray contributed to this story.