Monday, 20 September 2021

Covelo man arrested on suspicion of killing cousin

Christopher James Bettega, 23, of Covelo, California, was arrested on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, for murder. Mendocino County Jail photo.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — Authorities have arrested a Covelo man on suspicion of the murder last week of his cousin.

Christopher James Bettega, 23, was arrested on Wednesday for killing William Daniel Bettega, 25, also of Covelo, according to a report from Sgt. Luis Espinoza of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Espinoza said that at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center began receiving calls for service concerning a reported assault and possible kidnapping in an unknown area of Covelo.

The reports initially identified cousins Christopher Bettega and William Bettega as being the reported victims. At the time of the call, the location of William Bettega was unknown, Espinoza said.

Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies began to respond to Covelo and while they were responding, Espinoza said a separate call for service regarding a deceased person was dispatched.

Espinoza said the Covelo Fire Department had been dispatched to an injured male on the roadway near the intersection of Crawford and Henderson roads. When they arrived, they determined the subject was deceased and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was requested to respond.

When the deputies arrived at the deceased male's location, Espinoza said it was believed — based on evidence located at the scene — that the person was struck by a motor vehicle.

The deceased man was later identified as William Bettega, Espinoza said.

Espinoza said Mendocino County Sheriff's Office detectives were dispatched and assumed control over the investigation.

Based on the suspected nature of the death, sheriff's detectives requested and were assisted by an investigator from the California Highway Patrol Northern Division Investigation Services Unit. Espinoza said CHP officers assisted in documentation of the death scene.

A patrol deputy assisting sheriff's detectives located a vehicle in the Short Creek drainage just east of Biggar Lane in Covelo, Espinoza reported.

Espinoza said evidence consistent with a recent collision involving a pedestrian was located on the exterior of the vehicle. The vehicle was identified as being primarily utilized by Christopher Bettega.

Several people were contacted and interviewed over the next four days during the course of this investigation, he said.

On Wednesday, sheriff's detectives and patrol deputies served a search warrant at a residence near the intersection of Biggar Lane and Mendocino Pass Road in Covelo. At the conclusion of the search warrant, based on the information learned during the investigation, Espinoza said Christopher Bettega was arrested for murder.

Christopher Bettega was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on Wednesday afternoon. He’s still in custody in lieu of $1 million bail, according to jail records.

While this investigation is ongoing, Espinoza said there is no information suggesting the existence of any additional suspects and no evidence so far to support the initially reported kidnapping incident.

Espinoza said the investigation is still active and sheriff's detectives are asking anyone with information related to Christopher Bettega’S and William Bettega's activities on the night of Friday, Sept. 3, and during the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 4, to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's detectives ask any person or business with surveillance video which depicts a lifted white Chevy Silverado traveling on downtown Covelo roads between the hours of 12 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 4 to contact them.

An anonymous message can be left on the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Tip-Line by calling 707-234-2100.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office thanked the California Department of Justice Eureka and Santa Rosa Bureau of Forensic Services Criminalists; CHP Garberville and CHP Ukiah Offices; CHP Northern Division ISU and Multi Disciplinary Investigation Team and the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office Investigators for their continued assistance during this investigation.

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