Cloverdale pot home-invasion similar to earlier Sonoma County crimes

Detectives are investigating whether a Cloverdale case involving masked intruders looking for marijuana is connected to a recent slate of violent home-invasion robberies.|

Armed men looking for marijuana, cash and guns broke into a Cloverdale home earlier this year, a violent intrusion with striking similarities to a series of other violent and deadly home-invasion robberies in Sonoma County. Detectives are looking into whether the cases involve some of the same suspects.

Cloverdale resident Jeff Meier said he recognized one of the jailed men pictured in booking photos released for suspects in a pair of Feb. 8 home-invasion robberies near Santa Rosa, incidents that left one man dead and another man wounded.

Meier said he believes suspect Tyrone McRae, 25, of Jackson, Mississippi, “did all the beating” during the Jan. 26 encounter at his home near Cloverdale High School. McRae, who remains in Sonoma County Jail without bail, was named in an 11-count complaint alleging murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping and false imprisonment in connection with the Feb. 8 home invasions and the killing of a 54-year-old Santa Rosa father.

“The guy beat me up and said ‘You know who set you up for this?’?” said Meier, who kept quiet, fearing for his life and for his 21-year-old son with special needs, who also was tied up. “I just kept my head down.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said detectives have a copy of the Cloverdale police report from the Jan. 26 robbery at Meier’s home and are investigating any possible links. The suspects fled, and no one has been arrested.

A connection appears likely between the Feb. 8 robberies near Santa Rosa as well as Monday’s predawn home-invasion robberies outside Petaluma city limits, according to lawyers familiar with the investigations.

In the February case, masked intruders broke into two homes on Santa Rosa’s outskirts before dawn, shooting and wounding a 42-year-old man in the arm at a Fulton Road house and killing Jose Luis Torres, 54, at his home on Melcon Lane. Sheriff’s officials said the men demanded cash and marijuana, but left without finding drugs or money.

Early Monday, another band of masked robbers kicked down the doors at three homes on Eugenia Drive in rural Petaluma, also looking for marijuana but finding none.

A deputy public defender told a judge Thursday her office couldn’t represent men in both cases because of an undisclosed conflict. Attorneys and firms cannot lawfully represent more than one defendant in any related case.

Crum declined to confirm any connection between the cases.

Eleven men are being held at the Sonoma County Jail in connection to the crimes. And all but one Santa Rosa man are from the East Coast, primarily Virginia and North Carolina.

Crum also declined to say whether detectives have located Amber Hembree, a 20-year-old woman from Richmond, Virginia, who is a suspected Crip gang member and identified as a suspect in the Feb. 8 case. He also declined to say whether they have identified or arrested a second female suspected in Monday’s crimes.

In Virginia, Capt. Emmett Williams with the Richmond Police Department’s special investigations division said his department has been following the Sonoma County cases since the news broke in February that residents of their city were involved in California robberies.

His detectives have heard that local drug dealers are buying California marijuana for between $700 and $800 per pound and mailing it back east where it might sell for anywhere between $2,200 and $3,200 per pound, according to the captain.

“The weed is going west-to-east, and the cash is being shipped east-to-west,” Williams said.

Marijuana is increasingly prevalent in Virginia, and investigations involve people from every age, race, gender and socioeconomic status, he said.

“On a personal note, I apologize for our misfits coming out to your neighborhoods and committing crimes,” Williams said. “I wish we would have done something.”

Cloverdale Acting Police Chief Chris Parker said they have no suspects in the Jan. 26 case and have not yet confirmed any connections to McRae or other suspects jailed for the earlier crimes. Cloverdale police are waiting for information from the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re still looking into it. The case is still open,” Parker said.

Another suspect in the Feb. 8 case in Santa Rosa, Mussie Himed, 27, of Santa Rosa, the only local man jailed in the crimes so far, has been arrested in Cloverdale before.

In October, Cloverdale officers arrested Himed on suspicion of having a loaded Jennings .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun, court records show. He’s prohibited from having any firearms or ammunition because of a prior felony conviction. Himed’s arrests in Sonoma County dating to 2013 include burglary and drug charges, using a falsified prescription and identity theft.

Himed is scheduled to undergo a mental competency evaluation in the current case, according to court records.

The other suspects in the Feb. 8 case, in addition to McRae and Hembree, include: Jonathan Jackson, 19, of Richmond Hill, New York, and David Ealey, 23, of Richmond, Virginia. Ealey is a sex offender in Virgina following his 2014 conviction for molesting a child between 13 and 15 years old, records show.

Defendants in Monday’s home-invasion robberies are: Chrisshawn Denardray Beal, 20, Jaray Day-Shawn Simmons, 28, and Ledarrell Javon Crockett, 28, all of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; as well as Melvin Corbin, 19, Nakia Robert Lydell Jones, 22, Romello Shamar Jones, 20, and Siddiq Jafar Abdullah, 21, all from Richmond, Virginia.

In the Cloverdale case, the men sneaked into the house sometime around 3 a.m. on Jan. 26, Meier said. A night owl, Meier was awake, watching television and eating a meal. Meier said he grew marijuana in his garage for medical reasons and is a cancer survivor.

“I saw some movement in the corner of my eye - a man all in black with a mask and a gun,” Meier, 52, said. “He saw me and put the gun on me. Right behind him, three guys came in behind him.”

They bound Meier’s hands and legs, and also tied up his son and locked their dog in a bathroom. The four men then ransacked the house, taking jars of marijuana and other belongings, and forcing Meier at gunpoint to open a safe containing about $1,000 in cash and several guns.

“Every time they found something they’d kick me in the face,” Meier said. “It was a big pool of blood.”

Meier said a man who looked like McRae was the only intruder not wearing a mask. The men stuffed things into bags and luggage Meier had around the house, and once ready to leave handed Meier’s son a knife and said cut yourself free after counting to 60, he said.

Meier called 911 about 3:45 a.m. after he and his son freed themselves and ran to a neighbor’s home.

“They took our cellphones, my keys and put the home phone in the garbage disposal,” Meier said.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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