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Mendocino County teams search forest for missing Fort Bragg man, 77

The disappearance of a?77-year-old Mendocino County man has authorities increasingly worried about his safety.

Luther Jackson has been missing from his home north of Fort Bragg for more than a week with no solid clues as to his whereabouts.

Jackson is white, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and 175 pounds and has gray-blonde hair and blue eyes. It was unknown what clothes he might be wearing.

Jackson was last seen on May 14, when a volunteer from the Fort Bragg Senior Center delivered a meal to his home in the 31500 block of Little Valley Road, about 6 miles northeast of Fort Bragg.

The agency delivers twice a week, and Jackson was not at home on May 19 for his next delivery, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten said.

When Jackson again wasn’t home again for his Thursday delivery, deputies checked the house and surroundings but found nothing amiss. Jackson’s car was there and the house appeared in good order.

Jackson lives alone in the rural area near the coast but is healthy and relatively self-sufficient, Van Patten said.

Local deputies searched the surrounding area with available resources for several days, with no sightings. Over the long weekend, the agency received assistance from several other search and rescue teams from throughout the region.

Searchers have focused on land around Jackson’s house.

Jackson had told others about an old marijuana growing operation not far from his home, Van Patten said. He said he was going to revive it. Deputies think Jackson might have disappeared while walking to the site.

“He made it known he grows marijuana, just a handful of plants, and that he’d found an old marijuana grow garden in the wilderness beyond his house,” Van Patten said.

“He had some seedlings and start on his porch. That’s what we’ve been working on.”

Jackson has family in Lake County but they have had trouble securing a hotel room closer to Fort Bragg because of the shelter-in-place orders, Van Patten said.

Mendocino County search and rescue personnel used all-terrain vehicles, drones, searchers on foot and sniffer dogs without success.

On Monday, additional resources from the state arrived, bringing the total to 54 searchers scouring the area near Jackson’s home.

“He made a statement about this grow site being in an area of protected trees, so we’re trying to define the area with that detail,” Van Patten said.

Searchers found several preexisting grow sites but not the one Jackson described.

“He said he had fashioned himself a little bridge with some wood to get to it,” Van Patten said, and searchers found nothing like that.

“What has us concerned is the timeframe he’s been unaccounted for and if he’s been in the elements. It’s worrisome,” he said.

Searchers are reassessing their options this week and will continue looking, he said. Drivers in the Little Valley Road area were asked to be aware of searchers on foot and on ATVs.

Anyone with information about Jackson’s possible whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-463-4086.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

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