Mendocino County Sheriff's Office
Press Release
(Title of Crime/Incident) Missing Person-Adult -UPDATE-
Report Number:
Coroner Number:
Missing Person-Adult -UPDATE-
1600 Highway 20, Willits CA 95490
When: Date: 12/14/2013 Time:
Victim Info :        
  Name Age Street Address City, State
Victim #1: Lawrence B. Whetman 39 yrs Willits, CA
Suspect Info:        
  Name Age Street Address City, State
Written by: Lieutenant Shannon Barney
Synopsis: Synopsis:

On 12/14/2013 around 2:46 PM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office responded to a call of a missing person, Lawrence Whetman (39 years old), from a property located adjacent to the KOA Campground on Highway 20 in Willits. Officers were advised Lawrence left his residence, around 7:30 AM, to catch several horses on the property and to explore a possible horse trail leading towards the coast. He was expected to return in several hours but did not return.

A hasty search was conducted by Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies, Little Lake Fire Department, and Mendocino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Volunteers during the afternoon/evening but Lawrence could not be located.

Mutual Aid resources were requested through the California Office of Emergency Services. On 12/15/2013 Search and Rescue teams responded from Lake County, Humboldt County, Sonoma County and Mendocino Counties as well as Volunteers from the California Rescue Dog Association, Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Highway Patrol Air Unit out of Redding to continue the search. Resources utilized included fixed wing aircraft, area dogs, ground units, mounted posse, and all terrain vehicles units.

Search and Rescue teams learned from several sources that Lawrence may have been seen in and around the Skunk Train Railroad Tracks east of the Summit Tunnel and possibly on Highway 20 near Cutter Lumber Company.

The Sheriff's Office has requested additional mutual aid resources to continue the search on 12/16/13.

Lawrence is described as being a white male, 39 years of age, 6'01" tall, weighing approximately 175 pounds, having brown hair and eyes, wearing a gray "hoodie" sweatshirt, tan Carhart pants, carrying a backpack, and possibly wearing a green hat. The Sheriff's Office is requesting anyone who has possible seen Lawrence to contact the Sheriff's Office at (707)463-4086.


On 12/16/13 the search for Lawrence Whetman resumed. Agencies who responded to assist the Mendocino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue (SAR) included Marin County SAR, Colusa County SAR, Napa County SAR, Glen County SAR, California Highway Patrol Air Operations Redding, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Rescue Dog Association.

Around 9:00 AM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received information from a Fort Bragg resident that the missing person was seen attending a church service in Fort Bragg on Sunday 12/15/13. A deputy was dispatched to interview the witness to confirm the possible sighting.

Around 9:15 AM Lawrence telephoned his fiancee, who had reported him missing, while she was at the Search Command Post. He indicated to her he was in Fort Bragg at the Purity Market on North Franklin Street. Lawrence was unaware he'd been reported missing and thought he'd told his fiancee that he planned to walk to the coast on the morning of 12/14/13. A deputy was immediately dispatched to that location and contacted Lawrence. He appeared in good health and confirmed he did not know he had been reported as missing. He indicated he walked to Fort Bragg via the Skunk Train Railroad tracks and was planning to walk back to Willits that day. He was transported back to his residence by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office would like to thank all agencies who responded to assist with this search and would also like to thank all citizens who called information in about possible sightings. A specific thank you is offered to the owners of the KOA Campground in Willits who provided hot coffee and use of their facilities to the volunteers who responded to assist in the search.
Approved By: Lieutenant Shannon Barney