Slaying of Petaluma woman may be linked to motorcycle crash

A woman was found dead in a downtown Petaluma home early Friday, an incident police are investigating as a homicide that they suspect is linked to a fatal crash on Highway 101.

Details about the connection between the death of the woman and a motorcyclist who died in a crash about 40 minutes police were called to the woman’s home were not immediately available.

Authorities learned about the woman, who was 28, after they received a call at 2 a.m. asking for them to check on the occupants of a home on Sixth Street near I Street, the Petaluma Police Department said in a news release.

Officers arrived at the house and found the woman's body inside.

About 40 minutes earlier, the department was notified by CHP about a fatal crash on the southbound lanes on Highway 101, just north of the East Washington Street overpass, authorities said.

Police suspect a man drove a Harley Davidson motorcycle north on the southbound lanes of the freeway and struck a Honda Fit head on.

The man, who was 34, died as of a result of the crash, the news release said. The driver of the Honda, a 24-year-old woman who was the only person inside the car, suffered major injures and was stuck inside the vehicle, which caught fire.

A passerby pulled the woman to safety and she was taken to a hospital, police said. She’s expected to survive.

The southbound lanes of the freeway were closed until 5:45 a.m., police said.

“The totality of circumstances suggests the death on Sixth Street and the fatal incident on the freeway are related events,” the department said in a news release Friday morning.

A call to a police lieutenant for more information about the case was not returned Friday evening.

Police had cordoned off the sidewalk to a white, two-story Victorian home on Sixth Street where the woman’s body was found Friday morning, neighbor Judith Harris said.

A police detective knocked on her door at about 10 a.m. asking if Harris had heard any noises from the home across the street, or the sound of a motorcycle leaving the area, at 2 a.m., Harris said. She had not, Harris told the detective.

“I was really shocked,” Harris said of learning about the woman’s death, adding that crime was rare in the neighborhood.

The swarm of medical and law enforcement personnel gathered at the home early Friday was enough for Phil and Jodi Boyle’s daughter to wake them just before 3 a.m.

Officers seemed to concentrate their efforts on the bottom unit of the home, where several neighbors told the Boyles that a woman who was a teacher and a mother lived, the couple said.

Neither had met the woman before, they added. The owners of the home had bought the property recently and lived in the upstairs unit, but they were away on a road trip Friday morning, Jodi Boyle said.

A man who identified himself as one of the homeowners of the property when reached over the phone declined to speak to a reporter.

The names of both the woman and the man, as well as additional details about the case, were not released pending notification of family members, police said.

The CHP and Petaluma police were coordinating their investigations into the homicide case and the fatal crash with help from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office, police said.

Police don’t suspect there are any outstanding suspects in the homicide case, the department said.

Authorities ask anyone with information about the death or the fatal crash to contact Petaluma Police Department Detective John Silva at 707-778-4532.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or On Twitter @nashellytweets.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the timing of a Petauma police interview with neighbor Judith Harris.

Nashelly Chavez

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Press Democrat 

Who calls the North Bay home and how do their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and other factors shape their experiences? What cultures, traditions and religions are celebrated where we live? These are the questions that drive me as I cover diversity, equity and inclusion in Sonoma County and beyond.   


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