15-year-old girl arrested on suspicion of killing teenage Covelo girl

The 16-year-old’s death marks the second killing in Covelo in the last three weeks.|

A 15-year-old Covelo girl was arrested Saturday on suspicion of killing a 16-year-old Covelo girl, whose body was found earlier that day in a Mendocino County field, according to authorities.

Detectives said they believe an assault occurred between the two girls in a vacant field just north of the 23800 block of Howard Street in Covelo.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten described the scene as a “common path of travel used by people walking to downtown from a nearby housing area.”

Mendocino County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched about 11:25 a.m. to the field, where the victim’s body was found by her uncle, a news release from the sheriff’s office said.

The victim, who was identified as Ruby Montelongo, had not returned home Friday night, according to her uncle.

The Sheriff’s Office learned the 15-year-old girl, whom the deceased knew, had assaulted Montelongo in the field that night, according to the release.

Van Patten said the victim suffered injuries consistent with physical assault, such as from a fist fight.

The suspect, who was not named because of her age, was arrested and booked into Mendocino County Juvenile Hall.

An investigation is still being conducted, and an autopsy, including a toxicology analysis, will be performed Wednesday.

The 16-year-old’s death marks the second killing in Covelo in the last three weeks.

Nicholas Whipple, 20, of Redwood Valley, died the morning of March 29 after being shot during a physical assault.

Lee Anthony Joaquin was later identified as a suspect in Whipple’s death.

Van Patten said there does not appear to be a link between either killing.

Anyone with information that could assist Sheriff's Detectives in this investigation is encouraged to contact the Sheriff's Office tip line by calling 707-234-2100 or the WeTip anonymous crime reporting hotline by calling 800-782-7463.

Staff Writer Colin Atagi contributed to this report.

You can reach Staff Writer Madison Smalstig at 707-521-5489 and madison.smalstig@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @madi.smals.

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