It’s been almost a year since 29-year-old Vincent Earnest Sanchez picked up a shotgun and shot both his half-brother and a life-long family friend at point-blank range in a Eureka home, but it remains unclear why.
Sanchez was sentenced earlier this month to serve 40 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. A probation report recently released in the case offers the public its most in-depth look at what happened on March 24, 2014 in the Harris Street home of longtime Freshwater Farms owner Richard “Rick” Storre. But it seems to leave more questions than answers.
According to the report, Sanchez had been living with Storre — a longtime family friend — for about a year when, in February 2014, Sanchez’s maternal half-brother, 25-year-old Lance Delbert Henry, came to live with them. Around the same time, Sanchez purchased the shotgun, according to the report.
Police were called to Storre’s house shortly after 6 p.m. on March 27, 2014, after a friend stopped by to check on him and saw someone lying in a “large amount of blood.” Officers found Sanchez in the residence’s back yard, in a “makeshift, tarp-covered structure” and took him into custody. A short time later, police interviewed Sanchez and he recounted what had happened.
Sanchez told police, according to the report, that he, Storre and Henry were all home the night of March 24, 2014. At one point, he said, he left the house, retrieved his shotgun (from where is unclear), loaded it and came back inside. Upon seeing the gun, Sanchez said Henry rushed toward him, prompting Sanchez to knock him to the ground. Sanchez told officers he then leaned into the living room, where Storre was sitting in a chair. Storre, Sanchez recalled, asked, “What are you doing?” before Sanchez shot him once in the left side of the face. “Boom, one went off,” Sanchez told police. “I watched Rick die.”
“After shooting Rick, defendant turned back toward Lance, who was now standing up and looking at him,” the report states. “As Lance moved away from him, defendant shot him.”
Police asked Sanchez why he killed the two men, according to the report, but he didn’t answer and instead repeated exactly how he’d shot them. When asked if he’d used double-aught buckshot ammunition, Sanchez told the officer he did. “I wasn’t going to wound them so I could look at them again,” he said, according to the report. “Later in the interview, defendant again described the sequence of events, while using sound effects. It was noted that his depiction was cold and without emotion. When defendant was done, he was asked, ‘How’s that make you feel?’ Defendant replied, ‘It makes me feel, you know, relieved, but I’m still homeless.’”
Eureka Police detective Todd Wilcox, the lead investigator on the case, said police never did figure out a motive for the killings. “He was extremely purposeful,” Wilcox said. “He didn’t have a problem talking about the exact sequence of events and about his actions, but my recollection is that when we tried to talk to him about the why he just wouldn’t.”
Eureka police detectives at the scene of the murders of Richard Storre and Lance Henry in March 2014.
Sanchez told police that after the killings, he took the shotgun and left it out in front of the National Guard Armory on W Street, and then went to the hospital, where he stayed for 15 or 16 hours before returning to Storre’s home. Wilcox said detectives followed up on this but were unable to confirm that Sanchez went to the hospital, and still don’t know what he meant by this statement.
After returning to Storre’s house, Sanchez told police that he moved all of his belongings out of the residence and into the yard and then simply waited for police to show up. Based on the loose timeline of the incident included in the probation report, it looks like about 24-hours passed before police arrived on scene and took him into custody.
During his interview with the probation department, Sanchez denied that he’s ever been diagnosed with a mental illness, but said he was being prescribed the drugs Vistaril and Risperdal for anxiety and insomnia. The report also indicates that while in custody for a 2009 arrest, Sanchez was deemed unfit to stand trial and sent to a state mental hospital. That episode and Sanchez’s background were summarized in the Journal
’s April 10, 2014 cover story, “Unsealed
Sanchez, who served in the National Guard and was deployed to Egypt in 2005, was arrested on Jan. 15, 2009 in what has to be one of the stranger crimes in recent memory. Officers responded to a report of sounds of breaking glass and metallic banging coming from the Carson Mansion to find a vehicle parked askew out front. While checking the car's license plate, an officer heard a noise coming from the historic building's front porch and observed Sanchez walking toward him "at a brisk pace," according to the report. "(Sanchez) mumbled something about the guy in the back being a pedophile and 'king rune,'" the report states. "He fidgeted where he stood and seemed to be experiencing some kind of inner psychological conflict. (Sanchez) would periodically look left or right as if he had heard something that the officer was not seeing or hearing."
Sanchez was found to be in possession of a sword and a hatchet, and a subsequent investigation revealed he'd completely destroyed a phone line box and electrical panel outside the mansion before using his hatchet to break in. Once inside, according to the report, Sanchez simply walked through the building, using his hatchet to force his way into locked rooms, causing an estimated $10,000 in damage in the process.
In an interview with his probation officer, Sanchez later explained his actions. "He said he was bored and it had been a gloomy day," the report states. "He said he had always wanted to see the Carson Mansion. The day before the present matter, he had been turned away and told he had to be a member of the Ingomar Club to enter the building. He said he returned the next day. ... When asked why he would so such a thing, he stated, 'I was probably just too stoned.'"
The report notes that while Sanchez was found to have no history of mental illness, he was found unfit to stand trial and remanded to a state mental hospital for 63 days because he was "suffering from a substance-induced psychotic disorder due to his long history of substance use, including cannabis, alcohol, cocaine and inhalants."
Born on April 30, 1985 in Vallejo, the only child of Daniel Sanchez and Denise Henry, Sanchez was raised by his mother in Eureka with three half-siblings. Sanchez told his probation officer, according to the report, that his stepfather was physically abusive. At 16, he moved out of his mother's home and in with his maternal grandfather, where he stayed until he turned 18. At the time of his arrest, the report notes, Sanchez was being employed under the table by Storre, earning $10 an hour for landscaping work — a job he'd held for nine months.
While deeming Sanchez a suitable candidate for probation, the report warns that he "would appear to be in danger of future criminal activity without substance abuse and mental health intervention." Sanchez was sentenced to time served and three years probation in the case.
The most recent probation report doesn’t really shed any new light on Sanchez’s background. He told the probation officer that for the six months prior to the killings he wasn’t using any hard drugs, but would smoke marijuana daily and have a few alcoholic drinks a week. On the night of the shootings, he said he’d had two beers and “a couple of sips of moonshine.”
The report doesn’t go into much detail, but indicates Sanchez had known the Storre family basically since birth, his father having been friends with Richard Storre and his brother, Reed Storre. Sanchez spent time with the Storre family as a child, and also spent a stint living with Reed Storre before moving in with Richard, who the report refers to as Sanchez’s “longtime family friend and benefactor.”
The killings of Henry and Richard Storre were “alarming,” “seemingly without explanation” and committed in “cold blood,” the report concludes.
“The Storre family has lost a loved one at the hands of an individual for whom they had a life-long relationship and for whom they had cared for,” it states. “Defendant’s father is losing a son to a nearly life-long prison commitment, and potentially casting a shadow on a life-long friendship. Defendant’s mother has lost a son to murder at the hand of her eldest son; who is now to spend much, if not all, of the rest of his life in prison.
“To say this crime is senseless is an understatement.”