By Deana Medina
The preliminary hearing involving three people suspected in the suspicious 2016 disappearances of Elijah Moore and Enrique Rios resumed on July 12 with witness testimonies from two detectives who were part of the investigation.
David Ashley Froste, Jonathan Froste, and Chandale Dontray Shannon were arrested in June for the disappearances and suspected murders of Enrique Rios and Elijah Moore.
On Wednesday, Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergeant Lech Garcia testified that two weeks after his arrest, Jesus Campus, a minor who is being tried in juvenile court, came to police telling them he “wanted to make things right.” The deputy testified that “he wanted to take us to where the bodies were.” But he was unable to find the bodies, even as he gave investigators ample description of the terrain.
Sergeant Garcia continued his testimony on Thursday, cross-examined by Martha Sequeira, the deputy public defender representing Chandale Shannon, who along with the Frostes was charged in early June with murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Sequeira’s questioning focused on an interview Garcia conducted on June 25, 2018, with Jesus Campos, who was charged with suspicion of murder, conspiracy and kidnapping. During this interview Campos fully cooperated, coming forward and providing information about the case.
The forthcoming cooperation of Campos concerned Sequeira, as she noted that between June 9 and 10, Shannon gave information to Garcia that led to searches in Knights Landing. Campos potentially saw this search while in custody since it was televised, and then contacted Garcia. Sequeira then questioned Garcia as to why he did not ask Campos how many times he spoke with Shannon since Garcia knew they were acquaintances due to evidence after the disappearances of Moore and Rios which showed frequent communication between Campos and Shannon through social media.
The defense continued their questioning of Garcia’s interview tactics, asking how he did not find it suspicious that at the June 25 interview Campos offered to take a lie detector test not long after Shannon offered to do the same, insinuating that perhaps Campos and Shannon had enough time and interactions to arrange their stories together.
Deputy DA Kyle Hasapes, co-counsel for the prosecution along with Jay Linden, redirected, continuing to focus on the interview Garcia conducted with Campos. Campos described to Garcia an area in Knights Landing where the buried bodies of Moore and Rios could potentially be found, but a first search where Garcia drove Campos around and later searches have failed to locate the area. Garcia said he asked around if anyone knew about the landmarks Campos described, but with no positive results. The area searched in Knights Landing is rather large, and, when asked if it is possible to comb the whole area Garcia said, “No. I’m trying my best and still am.”
Garcia said he truly believed in Campos’ attempts to help the police in their investigation, referencing his demeanor after not finding the area: “He seemed disappointed.”
Detective Gary Hallenbeck, a sergeant and sworn peace officer of 20 years, appeared next on the witness stand. On December 22, 2016 Hallenbeck was asked to conduct a full investigation into the disappearances of Moore and Rios.
The line of questioning asked of Hallenbeck concerned establishing the timeline before Ricky Rios’ disappearance.
On October 17, 2016, probation dropped Ricky off at the house of his stepfather, Pedro Gutierrez, around 4:30 pm. They shared a meal together and spoke about their respective days, Rios leaving around 7:30 pm.
Facebook messages between Rios and Shannon dated October 17, 2016, contained an address belonging to Patricia and Josh Ferguson. Sgt. Hallenbeck spoke with Ms. Ferguson on January 7, 2017, later speaking with Mr. Ferguson, who was friends with Rios and would frequently hang out with him. On the last day Mr. Ferguson saw Ricky, a green Honda picked him up, a car similar to one Shannon owns. The car left with Mr. Ferguson believing Rios and the driver were making a quick stop at a nearby store. They came back before Mr. Ferguson’s cigarette was out, but then left again right away after Rios informed Mr. Ferguson that they would now be on their way to a party.
The described events of October 17, 2016, appear to be the last physical meeting people had with Rios. Sgt. Hallenbeck spoke with Lola Rios, Ricky’s mother, who said she got a text supposedly from Rios on October 18, 2016, but she did not believe her son was the one who sent it. Mrs. Rios stated how her son had motivation to work and make money, as she always took him to cash his checks, but noted that his behavior was unusual in the last days she saw him.
The timeline after the disappearances moved forward to February and March of 2017.
The FBI took part in the investigation as well, setting up a tip line that led to suspicions surrounding Fernando Obergone. The tip did not name him specifically but said to look for a Hispanic male named Freddy who lives near David Froste. Mr. Obergone was not at his residence the first time, so Sgt. Hallenbeck returned to get a statement.
Mr. Obergone recounted one early morning in October when David Froste showed up unannounced, asking at 3:30 am to borrow Obergone’s truck. Froste’s reasoning was that his brother’s car was stuck so he needed help. Despite believing it was a bit strange, Mr. Obergone lent his truck. Later that same day the truck was given back to Obergone.
In Hallenbeck’s conversations with Obergone, he discovered the vehicle had been washed by Mr. Froste eight to ten days after the borrowing of the truck. When asked if bleach had been used, Obergone initially said no. Upon furthering questioning in a second statement, Mr. Obergone answered the same question differently, claiming that Mr. Froste did whatever he did and that he himself was busy drinking and could not possibly know.
Sgt. Hallenbeck admitted this change of answer threw him off, saying Mr. Obergone was careful with his answers to all the questions, but most evidently this one: “If someone asked me if someone used bleach on my car I would say no right away because I knew it didn’t happen.”