Mendocino County marijuana grower killed during robbery

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The killing of a Mendocino County pot grower as he slept near his stash has sparked a nationwide manhunt for five people who formerly worked for the man as trimmers, authorities said.

Jeffrey Quinn Settler, 35, is the third person to be killed on the North Coast in the past month in events tied to growing marijuana.

Settler had been asleep in a building filled with marijuana on a remote property north of Laytonville when he was awakened and “violently assaulted,” Mendocino County sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten stated in a news release issued Sunday.

Deputies found Settler’s body Friday afternoon after they were dispatched to an address 5 miles off Highway 101 in the 49000 block of North Highway 101. Authorities did not specify the manner of Settler’s death.

Settler was growing the marijuana for commercial gain and not for medicinal purposes, Van Patten said. He was a resident of Bethel Island in Contra Costa County.

Van Patten said people who had been employed by Settler as marijuana trimmers went to the property early in the morning on Thursday with the intent to rob him. The assailants are believed to have fled the property in two vehicles with more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana.

Authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Zachary Ryan Wuester, 24, on suspicion of murder and robbery. Wuester is a resident of Haskell, N.J.

They also issued an alert for a blue 2017 Volkswagen Golf four-door sedan displaying the Virginia license plate number VHR5611.

Also being sought are:

Frederick Gaestel, 27, of Clifton, New Jersey.

Gary Blank III, whose age was not provided, of Elgin, Illinois.

Gary Lynn Fitzgerald, 23, of Roanoke, Illinois.

Amanda Weist, 26, of Fairfax, Virginia.

Authorities asked anyone with information to call 707-463-4421 or 707-234-2100.

Last month, two people were killed and one wounded during a marijuana deal outside Sebastopol. Two suspects are being sought in connection with the Oct. 15 shooting: Robert Lee Randolph, 30, and his girlfriend, Maria Teresa Lebron, 28. Detectives believe both fled to the East Coast.

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