Sunday, September 4, 2011

Guerneville, CA: In Search of James Willett (Part 3)

The Pattys had learned from the Press Democrat that the body was found about a half mile south of town, near an old road, and on the side of a mountain. It seemed to Patty that the best place to start looking was on the western side of Mays Canyon Road, on the side of Neeley Hill which is the only thing resembling a mountain south of Guerneville. Mr. Patty made note of his odometer and at 0.5, they started to look carefully. Could this be “it?” The metal gate to the old road is covered in scratched-in graffiti and someone had come out and freshly chalked a big peace sign onto a cement barrier. This appears to be a place where, for some reason, people come and linger. Patty ill-advisedly ventured around the gate onto posted private property.
Further up the trail just out of sight of the main road and to the left was a large turnaround containing a rotting mattress. On the right, a carefully bouldered-off wash full of detritus in which a shallow grave could easily have been dug on short notice. Right next to this little wash, the side of Neely Hill jutting up and looking very mountainous, indeed from where Patty stood.

In brief, Patty cannot be sure that this is the exact spot where James Willett was found. If not, it is highly probable that this is the“old road” that the hiker was treading upon that day in 1972. The site was surely close to the road if an elderly man could distinguish a human hand from piles of twigs and sticks that you find in the forest.

If you are not yet convinced, had the Pattys driven much beyond this spot to the south they would have been out of range of the half mile estimate in The Press Democrat. If, however, one were allowed to drive this old road beyond the gate and to the west, it would sweep out a half-mile contour that would closely follow The Pattys' hand drawn map in Part 1 (see ).

For whatever it is worth to you, it felt right to Patty, so she paused a moment to think about the victim and his family. Wouldn't you?

But wait…that’s not all, there is more...seriously! Check back soon for more about the Willetts, The Family, and Guerneville.