The following information is about the Chris Giauque homicide case. If you have facts relevant to this case, it could be worth your while to read this article and consider passing on any relevant information to help solve the case.
Chris Meets with a Business Associate to Collect a Large Sum of Money
Late in the afternoon of Saturday, August 9, 2003, Chris Giauque left his home in Salmon Creek, Humboldt County in northern California. He was happy to be free. He recently had spent a little more than one year in the federal prison at Atwater, CA for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Chris had previously spent time in other prisons for the same offense. Two weeks earlier, on July 26, Chris had married Rebecca Lynn Smiley in a large outdoor wedding in Trinidad, CA. That Saturday of August 9 Chris drove south on Hwy 101 to the Spyrock region in adjacent Mendocino County to meet with a business associate, Benjamin Jeffrey Lomax, to collect a large sum of money owed to Chris for income earned on a Spyrock property while Chris was incarcerated in Atwater. Upon reaching Spyrock Rd. along Hwy 101, he drove up Spyrock Rd., then Iron Peak Rd, and parked his vehicle at an area known as Government Pond, where he met with Ben Lomax around 7:00 PM for a ride onto the property.
Information Regarding the Property and the Business Transaction
8500 Simmerly Rd., Covelo. Since Chris was on probation, he did not want his vehicle, a 1994 blue Toyota extra cab pickup truck, to be seen at this location. Chris had purchased the property in 1999 and had Ben and Adrian each put down only $5,000. They each received a 25% interest in the property. This was done to try to deflect attention away from Chris due to his previous arrests. Chris, Ben Lomax, and Adrian Vasquez owned a very large property of more than 440 acres for cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Chris was a very intelligent individual. However, he made the mistake of traveling alone and without his large Rottweiler. Chris did not carry a gun as he was a felon. He kept with him a knife which had a blade approximately 4” long. Ben Lomax drove Chris out to the property which was approximately 5 miles from Government Pond. They went inside a 20 ft trailer to conduct their business. Ben Lomax told law enforcement that after conducting their business, he gave Chris a ride back to his truck and the last he saw of Chris was Chris driving down Iron Peak Rd. from the Government Pond area, while he, Ben Lomax, drove up to the Iron Peak lookout area where cell phone reception was attainable and made a number of phone calls.
The Story His Vehicle Tells
Chris’ truck was driven on the back roads of Mendocino and Humboldt counties to an area north of his Salmon Creek home. Late in the afternoon of Sunday, August 10th, the truck was driven down Elk Creek Rd. to the Avenue of the Giants. At the intersection the driver of Chris’ truck cut off a vehicle travelling on the Avenue of the Giants. Chris’ truck was followed by a second truck. The driver of Chris’ truck turned left onto the Avenue of the Giants, drove several hundred feet, and parked off the road by some redwood trees. The driver of Chris’ truck jumped into a following 1975-1980’s full-sized brown Ford pickup truck. The left brake light of this truck was covered with red tape. The vehicle had significant damage on the left-hand side with a crunch to the driver’s door all the way to the back bumper. The truck had oversized, offroad tires and was very dirty.
Three days later, Chris’ truck was reported found and towed to the Garberville Sheriff substation. Later the truck was towed to the Department of Justice in Eureka for forensic examination. The truck was very clean and without road dust. Chris always had a messy truck. Chris’ truck must have been cleaned up in the vicinity of either Dyerville Loop Rd. or Elk Creek Rd. A number of days later, the individual who was cut off at the intersection looked at a number of mug shots provided by law enforcement. The individual was 90% confident that the driver of Chris’ truck was David Sequoia, aka David Gabriel Barger. David was later killed by law enforcement in March of 2010 in Eureka, CA.
Chris is Reported Missing by His Wife
On the afternoon of Monday, August 11, 2003, Chris was reported missing at the Humboldt County Sheriff substation in Garberville by his wife of two weeks. She was accompanied by a southern Humboldt County lawyer, Ron Sinoway, and Ben Lomax, the last person who admits to seeing Chris. Chris’ brother Clint was informed of the fact that Chris was missing. Clint informed both of his parents. Chris’ father Bob Giauque spoke with Rebecca that evening. When Chris’ father called Rebecca again the following day, he was told that upon the advice of her lawyer she would not have any further communications with him and has never spoken to him since.
The Business Associate and Other Individuals Seek Legal Advice
Ben Lomax subsequently hired Ukiah lawyer, Jan Cole Wilson for legal advice and to be with him during any interviews by law enforcement. Law enforcement subsequently went up to the Spyrock property jointly owned by Chris, Ben, and Adrian. Law enforcement wanted to interview a group of 4 individuals. They were Scott Arthur McKinney, Freddie Allen Delgado, Victor Raul Suarez Jr., and Eric Paul Barnett. Eventually, Scott McKinney was contacted by law enforcement and they were told to talk to the lawyer representing all four of these individuals. Subsequently Freddie Delgado split from the group and got his own lawyer and was interviewed by law enforcement. It appears that the other 3 individuals have never been interviewed by law enforcement regarding Chris’ case.
Ben Lomax’s Trailer Home was Cleaned Up and Smelled of Clorox
Three or four days after Chris disappeared, two of Chris’ friends went from Humboldt County down to the Spyrock property to look for Chris. Coincidently they met Scott McKinney at a gate on Simmerly Rd. Scott had his left arm bandaged up from his wrist to his elbow. Scott claimed that he had a self-inflicted injury from cutting weed. Scott let the two individuals through the gate and they drove out to the property. Ben Lomax was not on the property. One of the individuals went into the trailer home where Ben lived when on the property. The trailer home was normally very messy, dirty like a pig sty according to several of Chris’ friends. That day it was super clean and had the distinct odor of Clorox. This suggests that there was an effort to clean up blood within the trailer.
Scott McKinney Gives a Conflicting Story Regarding the Injury to His Arm
One year after Chris disappeared, private investigator Doug Newton was hired to work on Chris’ case. Doug went to a number of areas and left his business card requesting that Scott McKinney make contact with him. Scott did contact Doug and stated that he did not know anything about what happened to Chris. When Doug asked Scott about the injury to his left arm, Scott claimed that it was self-inflicted cutting out the bottoms of plastic pots. This was a different story than Scott had told earlier. When Scott was asked if he would be willing to sign a release on his medical records for the treatment of his injury, the reply was “No, it would just open a can of worms.”
Multiple Individuals of Interest Were Indicted in a Large Marijuana Bust 2 Years after Chris Disappeared
Two years after Chris disappeared, in a separate matter, four of the individuals of interest in Chris’ case were included in a federal indictment out of Fresno, California. This indictment of 15 individuals was for a very large-scale conspiracy to cultivate and distribute 4,400 pounds of marijuana.
Pursuant to the execution of search and arrest warrants in Mendocino County, agents arrested Freddie Allen Delgado. Thereafter, Victor Raul Suarez, Jr., Benjamin Jeffrey Lomax, and Scott Arthur McKinney turned themselves in to federal law enforcement authorities in San Francisco. Information regarding this federal indictment was in a September 8, 2005 news release by a US Attorney for the Eastern District of California.
Ben Lomax had multiple interviews regarding Chris’ disappearance. As a consequence of the federal indictment, Ben Lomax had to undergo a lengthy 3-hour interview during 2007. The Mendocino County Sheriff Detective who had been handling Chris’ case conducted the interview. To our knowledge, this was the last interview of Ben Lomax regarding this case. It was the opinion of this deputy that Ben Lomax had nothing to do with the disappearance of Chris.
Rebecca Giauque’s Civil Lawyer has Chris’ Death Certificate Purged
On September 9, 2010 an order that legally established the death of Chris Giauque was signed in Humboldt County Superior Court. Kelly Walsh, Rebecca’s civil lawyer, had Chris’ death certificate purged and kept confidential except for estate and inheritance purposes.
In February 2012 a $200,000 Reward Fund Was Established and Scott McKinney Writes a Letter to a Newspaper.
In February 2012, Chris’ father, Bob Giauque, established a reward fund in the sum of $200,000 for information regarding the disappearance of his son. On February 29, 2012, the Anderson Valley Advertiser published a letter to the editor that was submitted by Scott McKinney. In the letter Scott claimed that he had nothing to do with Chris’ disappearance and that he too wanted justice for Chris and was willing to contribute to the reward fund. He signed the letter as being from Humboldt County. Upon a search of county and court records, no connection of Scott McKinney with Humboldt County could be found. Of course, he did not contribute a cent to the reward fund.
Information published on the Internet clearly shows a deep scar approximately 5” long on the outside of the left forearm of Scott McKinney. This cut was not self-inflicted by cutting weed or cutting out the bottom of plastic pots as previously claimed by Scott. During multiple interviews of Ben Lomax by law enforcement, it was stated that Scott was not injured the afternoon of Saturday, August 9, 2003 (the day that Chris disappeared) but Scott’s arm was bandaged up a day later.
Individual with First-Hand Knowledge Provides Important Information Regarding the Killing of Chris
In June 2014 Chris’ father received between 8 to 10 telephone calls from an individual who would not identify himself. The telephone number from which he called was 615-393-1919. This area code was for the area of lower Tennessee or upper Mississippi. The individual was calling from the Comptche area of Mendocino County. He stated that he was present when Chris was killed and that he worked for Ben Lomax. He claimed that there were four individuals present besides Chris and that it was a setup killing and that Chris did not receive any money from Ben Lomax. The four individuals named were Ben Lomax, Scott McKinney, Vic (he did not know Vic’s last name), and himself. The individual stated that Chris knifed Scott McKinney while being overpowered. He also claimed that Scott received a very serious cut on his upper body. Chris reportedly was killed with his own knife and Scott McKinney had to seek medical attention. Chris’ body was wrapped in a tarp so that it would not get blood on the vehicle used to transport Chris’ body off the property. Additionally, the individual stated that Chris’ truck was driven to Humboldt County to deflect the investigation away from the Spyrock area.
The unidentified individual was very sorry that he was present when Chris was killed. He did not know why Chris did not drive out to the property in his own truck. (Chris was on probation and did not want his truck seen on the property.) The individual was not seeking reward funds. He was very scared and wanted Bob Giauque to purchase a GreenDot Money Pak with $224 for bus money so that he could travel to Mississippi.
During the conversations, Bob presented multiple bits of incorrect information regarding two of the individuals that were present to verify that the information provided by the caller was correct. Each time Bob presented incorrect information, he was corrected by the individual. Additionally, the individual knew very personal information regarding Ben Lomax. Bob did purchase a GreenDot Money Pak and called the individual with the number on the card. The individual was to call Bob back and tell him where they had disposed of Chris’ body. The individual did not call back and the phone turned out to be a burner phone. The current Mendocino County Sheriff does not believe the above information was from a witness to the crime and contends that Bob was merely played for bus money.
An Additional Private Investigator Was Hired in 2018
Private investigator Dawn King was hired in 2018. On a visit to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office with Bob, she was provided with a copy of the 3-hour interview of Ben Lomax that took place approximately 4 years after Chris disappeared. The interview was subsequently transcribed and it turns out that multiple extremely important statements by Ben Lomax which were untruths were never checked out by the MCSO detective originally assigned to Chris’ case. The deputy left the department in 2010 on a medical disability. Subsequently, he started his own private investigator business. In 2020 he was hired to review the 3-hour interview with Ben Lomax. He provided a small amount of additional information. Unbelievably, he was still of the opinion that Ben Lomax had nothing to do with the disappearance of Chris Giauque.
In October 2020, the reward fund was increased from $200,000 to $400,000. The sum of $200,000 is being offered for information that leads to the recovery of Chris’ remains. An additional sum of $200,000 is offered for information that leads to the arrest and subsequent conviction of the individuals responsible for this homicide. The reward funds are at a Santa Rosa bank in a trust fund and they will remain available through calendar year 2024.
Due to his age, Chris’ father made the decision that the truth regarding Chris’ case should be put on the Internet and published as a matter of record. The information could be very useful to some future agency that may be willing to revive this cold case and interview Ben Lomax and other People of Interest who were never interviewed. It is hoped that with the information provided, other individuals will come forward with relevant information so that justice can be served.
Bob Giauque can be contacted at 707-865-0933. Private Investigator Dawn King’s telephone number is 707-287-7603. Sources can remain confidential. More information regarding this case can be found at chrisreward.org.
Previously: What Happened To Chris Giauque?