Mad River Union
Marcia Maelinda Kitchen and boyfriend Joshua Wren Pearlston have been named “parties of interest” by the California Highway Patrol in its stymied hunt for the driver responsible for the criminal hit-and-run deaths of two Fortuna teenagers on July 12.
Both Kitchen, mother of Kiya Kitchen, one of the girls killed, and Pearlston are wanted for questioning. Investigators have not been able to reach them despite multiple attempts to contact Kitchen, according to the CHP.
In a brief communiqué this afternoon (Thursday), the highway patrol issued a warning that criminal charges can be lodged against anyone “who has provided aid in hiding or concealing evidence in this case”—but no suspects in that connection were named, if any.
Coupled with the warning, the highway patrol appealed for public assistance in tracking down Kitchen and Pearlston.
The other dead teen, Faith Lorraine Tsarnas, was memorialized at a funeral service July 16 at Hydesville Community Church (Union July 20, p. A1).
The 2015 gray Jeep Wrangler believed involved in the collision is registered to Marcia (also Marci) Kitchen, the CHP confirmed.
Following execution of a search warrant, the Jeep was recovered by detectives on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 from a fenced backyard behind a gate at Marcia Kitchen’s residence.
As previously reported, Kitchen’s attorney, Eureka lawyer Ben Okin, contacted the CHP “to help facilitate her questioning” when the Jeep was impounded last week, but neither she nor Pearlston has been available to investigators, according to the patrol.
Thursday’s statement called the probe “a very complex case” but supplied few fresh details. It included an appeal to the public “to be patient with us as the investigation continues to unfold; this is a very complex case and we have to be thorough, to ensure those who are responsible are held accountable for their crimes.
"CHP investigators have been working day and night to bring this investigation to a close and we appreciate the public’s assistance and support.”
The Jeep was reported southbound on Eel River Drive, south of Kenmar Road at an unknown speed near Fortuna. Kiya Kitchen and Tsarnas were skateboarding northbound in the southbound lane of Eel River Drive. Tsarnas was dead at the scene; Kitchen died the next morning, July 13, at Oakland Children’s Hospital.
The courthouse blogger John Chiv was the first to report July 14 that “more than one source” had identified the suspected driver as Marci Kitchen, although no official sources have done so.
Both Chiv and south Humboldt’s Redheaded Blackbelt website, anchored by Kym Kemp, reported that Okin had confirmed he is representing Kitchen, but he was not quoted as identifying his client by name or disclosing the client’s gender.
Kemp quoted Okin as saying his information led law enforcement to a search of a Becker Lane home in Fortuna where the Jeep reportedly was found. That location was also reported by the Times-Standard.
Okin was also quoted by Kemp as saying his client was ready to be taken into custody. Union attempts to reach Okin by phone were unsuccessful.