Murder On Peachland Road

by Briana Burns, October 5, 2016

This is a sequel to my story about the burning of Lone Tree.

Maybe ten or twelve years later, along about 1993, my daughter Wendy had gone off to college (not at 18, but a couple of years later) to UC Santa Cruz. One weekend she came home to Boonville with a college friend named Jennifer. Maybe my son CT was around that weekend, too, I’m not quite sure. Anyhow, there were at least three of us there at our Peachland home for the weekend, Wendy and Jennifer, and me, home for the weekend from my then-job in the Bay Area. It was Saturday, May 15.

Anyhow, for some reason we were out in the front yard just at evening, and we heard two gunshots, sounding awfully nearby. They didn’t sound like they were on our property, but very nearby. And of course I always paid attention to such things, so I noted the shots.

Shortly thereafter a vehicle came by, heading to town. I can’t remember if I recognized the vehicle or not, but I later learned it was that of my next neighbor up Peachland Road. At that time Chuck and Connie Golden were my immediate neighbors on up the road, who had bought the 160-acre parcel opposite the new vineyard on the left on up Peachland Road.

It was almost dark, so we had moved into the house and turned on the electric light in the kitchen, which is at the back of the house. By now it might have been about 15 minutes since I had heard the shots. As I say, we were in the kitchen when, totally out of the blue, (something that had never happened after dark in all my 20 years living up there) there was a knock on the front door out at the front of the house, and I heard a strange noise, an inhuman noise, along with the knock. My first reaction was to think it was some sort of prankster! I think this was my reaction because the noise was like nothing I had ever heard in my life.

I went to the front door and opened it, and here was a woman who had turned away and was heading around the house, presumably to the back door. I could see blood on the back of her dress. When she heard me open the door, she turned back to me and said, in this weird, other-worldly voice, “Help me!”

She said she’d been shot! At first I assumed she meant it was an accident. Because of the blood, I didn’t invite her up the steps and into the house, but we brought a large clean towel and she tried lying down, but she soon said she couldn’t breathe lying down so she sat up. In the meantime, of course, someone had immediately called 911!

Turned out it was Rosalind ‘Roz’ English, whom I knew, as she and I had worked on things together at the Elementary School. I forget who we reached on the phone, a stranger, I guess. Maybe I had tried to call Keith Squires directly? I don’t remember.

I do remember that Deputy Keith Squires, whom we all knew well, was the first to arrive. He explained that the ambulance couldn’t come up until he had determined that the gunman was not a possible danger to the EMTs. So he questioned Roz, and she told him that she and her boyfriend, Martin Baltazar Gonzales, age 31 at the time, had driven up the road and had an argument and he had shot her and then shot himself. She thought he was dead, but Keith had to go check for himself before he could let the ambulance come up. (As I remember, the AVA later reported that Roz had just gotten out of jail on drug charges, and she and her boyfriend were arguing because he wanted her to continue, dealing, I guess, and she didn’t want to, so he shot her!)

So Keith left to go on up the road and check on the gunman, and we waited. I learned later that Chuck Golden, when he went down the road earlier, had seen the vehicle parked on the side of the road, and two people out of it, and that the man had a gun. As I remember, I think Keith had already heard about the man with a gun from Chuck, when I phoned to say Roz was at my house and had been shot!

Finally the ambulance came! I suppose by now it was anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and a half since I’d first heard the shots.

What I do remember is Berle Thomasson, one of the EMTs, cutting Roz’s blouse or dress down the back, baring her back, where we could both see what I presume was lung tissue draped down her back! Berle took one look and grabbed a huge pad of gauze about nine inches square and laid it over the wound and covered Roz up again!

In retrospect, with what I know of anatomy from butchering animals, I feel pretty sure Berle must have known this was a mortal wound and that Roz was not going to survive!

It had been a minimum of at least half an hour that she had been bleeding with the shot through her right lung! That was why her voice had sounded so non-human! It was high-pitched, like someone talking after inhaling helium, because she was talking on only one lung, instead of two full of air! And Roz had walked, at least a quarter of a mile, down the road to my house! And this was a Saturday night, and she was dressed up and wearing some kind of heels; maybe not really high heels, but low high heels! I admired her, and was so glad she knew I had a phone, and had come to me for help! How lucky she was that it was the weekend, and someone was at home for the weekend!

Sometime in the next month or two, my old friend Kathy Bailey happened to have driven up Peachland Road and got stuck, or something, further up the road. She, too, came to my house for help, but she started calling as she came down the hill from the road toward the house. She explained that after my recent experience, she didn’t want to come to the house and knock on the door, but wanted to let me know from a distance she was a friend in need! I told her I was not feeling traumatized by the experience of having Roz come to my house for help after dark! I mean it was traumatic, but I felt good that both Roz and Kathy had come to me for help, and I was able to help!

Back to Saturday night outside the front door — there was little the EMTs could do. They brought up a stretcher and carried Roz down the yard to the ambulance. Then they drove down to the airport and waited for what seemed to us, up at the house, listening for the ambulance helicopter to arrive from Ukiah, like a long time! When we finally heard it arriving, and then leaving for Ukiah, we figured that was the end of the incident for us. Later, we learned in the AVA that Roz had not survived the trip to the hospital.

But, that night, after we heard the helicopter come into the Valley and then take off from the airport, then came the spooky part!

Wendy only then told us all that that weird inhuman voice, crying “Help me, help me”, was the same voice she had heard outside the house that night more than ten years earlier, when Lone Tree had burned! I don’t believe in ghosts, but I admit I had a strange sensation when she told us this story! I remembered from 1980, that when I left Wendy and CT alone to go up Peachland Road to try to do something about Lone Tree burning, when I came home after dark that night, she had been scared to death and insisted that there had been someone outside the house crying “Help me, help me!” She had been way too scared to do anything about it while I was gone, but when I got home she insisted that I go out into the night and go all around the house, looking to see if there was any person, or animal, or ghost out there, that had scared her so!

So we all had creepy sensations that night, hearing Wendy claim that she had heard that exact same voice, Roz’s strange other-worldly, inhuman voice, begging for help ten years earlier! I still don’t believe in ghosts, but I can’t explain this story! It is a mystery!

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