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Police pursue triple-slaying suspect in remote forestland

May 12, 2013|By Hector Becerra

The manhunt intensified Sunday for a 45-year-old man suspected of gunning down his wife and two young daughters in Northern California.

Much of the effort was being focused on the forestlands near the tiny town of Petrolia.

Shane Franklin Miller is the only suspect in the Tuesday-night triple killing of Sandy Miller, 34, and daughters Shelby, 8, and Shasta, 5. Deputies responded to the family’s home near Shingletown, about 200 miles from Petrolia, after getting a call from one of the victims while the shooting was taking place.

They were all shot more than once, Kent said. A cache of weapons was found later but not the ones used in the killing. Miller’s truck was found near Petrolia late Wednesday.

Investigators were scouring it for evidence and were also continuing to collect evidence at the home on the block of 28400 Alpine Way, where the shooting took place.

Officials told the Associated Press on Sunday that more than 70 law enforcement officers were on the case, including SWAT officers and police in helicopters.

Shasta County Lt. Dave Kent told The Times on Friday that the pursuit of Miller was especially dangerous because it was suspected he might be heavily armed and because he knows the area well.

“We’re going into a vulnerable situation where we’re trying to search for him in a dense forest he knows very well and that we know adequately,” Kent said.

“There were some ammunition boxes found. There was a lot of weapons that were in his name and his wife’s name that have not been accounted for,” Kent said. “We’re not releasing the types of weapons we did find, but there’s other weapons outstanding, including the type of weapons involved in the crime. He’s armed and extremely dangerous with the types of weapons unaccounted for.”  

Kent said investigators believe Miller -- described as 5-feet-10 and 200 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes - -may have kept weapons in various locations.

“We can’t confirm the types of weapons cached in other places,” he said.

Dennis Handy, 69, a sculptor and Petrolia resident, said the town of about 300 has been overrun by a wave of law enforcement personnel, with checkpoints limiting access to and from the area.

Military and other helicopters with heat-sensing technology have buzzed overhead, and the U.S. marshal and numerous other law enforcement officers with flak jackets are on the ground.

Residents are being told to keep doors locked and leave notes on the doors of their homes if they leave.

“They say if we go out for any reason, to put a note on the door with our name on it and where we are,” Handy said.

He said the town has a general store with a post office, a volunteer fire department and not much else spread over one block. It’s about 60 miles south of Eureka, along a large wilderness area that boasts one of the longest stretches of pristine, undeveloped California coastline.

Handy said he first noticed something was amiss Wednesday afternoon while returning home through town, when he noticed sheriff’s deputies with black flak jackets.

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