Mendocino County prosecutors on Monday dropped the felony kidnapping charge against the lead suspect in the disappearance of 23-year-old Khadijah Britton, citing a lack of evidence.
Mendocino County District Attorney spokesman Mike Geniella said prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to charge Negie Tony Fallis IV with kidnapping his girlfriend, Britton, who’s missing and feared dead.
Fallis, however, remained in Mendocino County Jail on Monday on two felony charges: possession of a firearm by a felon and prohibited person in possession of ammunition.
Britton, of Covelo, hasn’t been seen since Fallis, 37, pulled her from a friend’s home at gunpoint the night of Feb. 7, witnesses told police. It happened less than a week after she told domestic violence counselors Fallis attacked her with a hammer.
In an email, Geniella called the case against Fallis “frustrating.”
“No body, no victim,” he wrote. “Very frustrating case with a lot of time and energy put into it by family, friends, community and law enforcement.”
Fallis, whose bail was reduced from $400,000 to $35,000, is set to appear in court Wednesday on the two remaining charges.
His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
“We’re all devastated,” said Laura Betts, Britton’s aunt. “This isn’t over. We lost the battle, but we didn’t lose the war.”
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney, the lead investigator, said the case is still open and active, and that deputies are in the planning stages of a new search for Britton.
“We are definitely trying to encourage the public to, if they know something, call us,” he said. “That little piece to them might be a big piece to us.”
But progress on the case has been slow, with potential witnesses in the small Mendocino County community of Covelo, population 1,200, remaining tight-lipped, Barney said.
“We’re still hoping for a break in the case from somebody who knows something, and we also still have evidence that needs to come back from lab analysis, so we’re hoping we might get something there as well,” he said. “It is our hope that we can solve this case and find her, one way or another.”
You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205.
If you go
The north entrance and parking lot for Hood Mountain Regional Park and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is at 3000 Los Alamos Road in Santa Rosa, located about four miles up a narrow winding road from Highway 12/Sonoma Highway.
The entrance is near the headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek, and visitors must ford the creek to access Sugarloaf Ridge State Park’s McCormick Addition, which can be challenging after heavy rain.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park will reopen in its entirety Feb. 1, though many trails will remain closed, including Natkemper-Goodspeed, Vista, Headwaters, Red Mountain, Hillside and Brushy Peaks. Bald Mountain, High Ridge, Meadow, Pony Gate and Grape Vine trails will be opened. Park managers hope to have completed a bridge repair necessary to reach the popular waterfall on Sonoma Creek via Canyon Trail, as well.
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