Mendocino County Sheriff's Office
Press Release
(Title of Crime/Incident) Suspicious Fire / Death Investigation
Report Number:
2012-25960 UPDATE    
Coroner Number:
Suspicious Fire / Death Investigation
10580 Main Street Potter Valley, Ca 95469
When: Date: 09-29-2012 Time: 0810 hours
Victim Info :        
  Name Age Street Address City, State
Victim #1: Earle McDaniel 87 Potter Valley, Ca
Victim #2: Wesley McDaniel 55 Potter Valley, Ca
Suspect Info:        
  Name Age Street Address City, State
Written by: Captain Greg Van Patten

On 9-29-2012 at approximately 0810 Mendocino County Sheriffs Deputies and California Highway Officers were dispatched to the listed location to assist Potter Valley and Cal Fire in regards to a fully engulfed residential fire.

On arrival deputies learned that family members had vacated the residence during the fire, but possibly two victims remained inside and were unaccounted for.

Deputies then contacted detectives who responded to the location.

During the fire investigation, two victims were located inside the burnt structure.

Mendocino County Detectives along with Cal Fire Investigators are continuing the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire along with identifying the two deceased victims.

Further information will be released in the coming week.


On 10-02-2012 at 1000 hours the two deceased victims were identified as being Earle McDaniel and Wesley McDaniel, who investigators identified as being father and son.

Sheriff's Detectives are continuing their investigation into the cause of the fire.

Anyone with information that they believe would be useful for Detectives is asked to call the Sheriff's Office Tip Line at 707-234-2100.


On 12-13-2012 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office concluded the investigation in to the deaths of Earle McDaniel and Wesley McDaniel.

At that time an approximately 200 page investigative report was provided to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for an official review of the information collected during the investigation.

Sheriff's Detectives believed the information collected did not substantiate an allegation of arson made by Dawn McDaniel, a surviving occupant of the residence.

Statements obtained from two children who were also surviving occupants of the residence suggested the fire had accidentally started as the result of an unattended burning candle. The location of the candle was consistent with the origin of the fire as witnessed by Cal Fire Chief Chris Rowney and Potter Valley Fire Chief Bill Pauli upon their arrival at the residence.

On 12-18-2012 the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office concluded their official review of the Sheriff's Office investigative report and determined there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate the fire was anything but accidental.

On 01-02-2013 the Mendocino County Chief Deputy Coroner classified the deaths of Earle McDaniel and Wesley McDaniel as accidental.
Approved By: Captain Greg Van Patten