Police in North Dakota arrested Demetrius Coleman on Sunday and the Rio Dell Police Department announced today that he is the "primary suspect" in the fatal Aug. 29 shooting of Johnny Mack Renfro.
Renfro was fatally shot Aug. 29 while walking away from his vehicle on Monument Road in Rio Dell. Authorities were unable to locate Coleman after the shooting and labeled him a “person of interest” in the case and began tracking his movements, from Sacramento to the state of Idaho and — eventually — Fargo, North Dakota and contacted law enforcement agencies there to aid with the arrest.
According to Sheriff Paul A. Lies of Eddy County, North Dakota, several agencies helped apprehend Coleman. However, a woman known as Miriam or Alma Ahumada, a suspect with a warrant out of Humboldt County, was not caught and is still on the loose.
Lies said the Rio Dell Police Department contacted him with information that Coleman had family in the area and may be nearby. His department followed up on the lead and Coleman was located at the Bison Lodge in New Rockford. Coleman and a woman fled from officers, according to a press release issued by Lies’ department.
“Deputies were able to surround a small building behind the lodge where they believed the individual was hiding,” the press release states. “The subject continually ignored commands to surrender and exit the building … deputies made entry into the building. Deputies were able to apprehend Coleman without force."
Coleman was arraigned today but Lies said he refused to be extradited so now Rio Dell will have to go through the process of extraditing him, which he said could take several months.
Rio Dell investigators also suspect Alma Ahumada as an associate to the shooting. Ahumada is “currently a fugitive in this case and is on the run from North Dakota Police.”
Police ask that anyone with information or recent communications with Ahumada call the Rio Dell Police Department at (707) 764-5642.
Arrest Made in Rio Dell HomicideBackground:On Thursday, August 29, 2019, at about 6:30 PM, a homicide occurred in the City of Rio Dell. The victim wasidentified as 26 year old Johnny Mack Renfro, a resident of Humboldt County who was originally from Texas.Mr. Renfro was shot once in the abdomen from a passing car. The Humboldt County Major Crimes Task Forceresponded immediately to assist the Rio Dell Police Department with the investigation. Detectives andevidence technicians from numerous Humboldt County law enforcement agencies congregated in Rio Dell tohelp canvass the neighborhood and gather evidence. Assisting agencies include the Humboldt County DistrictAttorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and the police departments of the cities of Arcata, Eureka, Ferndale and Fortuna.
With the assistance of a Rio Dell resident, CCTV footage was recovered by investigators. The footage depictedthe murder of victim Johnny Renfro as well as the assailant’s vehicle. Shortly thereafter, the vehicle used inthe homicide was recovered by the city. Numerous pieces of evidence were collected and processed. OnSeptember 25, 2019 the City of Rio Dell issued a press release identifying Demetrius Coleman as a person ofinterest in the homicide of Mr. Renfro.Since the September 25th update, Rio Dell Police have continued to pursue numerous leads in thisinvestigation.
On Tuesday, October 22, 2019 Demetrius Coleman’s status was upgraded to the primary suspect in thehomicide of Johnny Renfro. An arrest warrant for Mr. Coleman was issued the same day. News of theupgraded status of suspect Coleman and the arrest warrant was withheld to further conduct the investigationand for officer safety. Suspect Coleman was then tracked over time to various locations, including Sacramentoand the State of Idaho.
Over the past two weeks, Rio Dell Police tracked suspect Coleman to a location outside of the City of Fargo inthe State of North Dakota and initiated contact with law enforcement agencies in that state. On January 26,2020 suspect Coleman was arrested by the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department in the State of North Dakota.
The Rio Dell investigation has also tied an associate of suspect Coleman to the murder of Johnny Renfro, Ms.Alma Ahumada. Ms. Ahumada is currently a fugitive in this case and is on the run from North Dakota Police. Ifyou have information or recent communications with Ms. Ahumada, please call the Rio Dell Police Departmentto relay this information 707‐764‐5642.
Rio Dell Police Chief Jeff Conner is currently traveling to North Dakota to assist area law enforcement.
“This investigation was aided by the cooperation of witnesses and associates of both suspect Coleman andvictim Johnny Renfro in addition to the tremendous help from the citizens of Rio Dell who voluntarily providedvideo evidence and other support.” Rio Dell Police Sergeant John Beauchaine stated. “Without the communitystepping up to provide valid information about this homicide, it would have remained unsolved.”
Beauchaine concluded by cautioning that suspect Coleman is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a courtof law. “I’m very confident that we have the correct person responsible for this homicide. We have done ourbest to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of Coleman’s guilt and we will continue to work with theDistrict Attorney as needed. Ultimately, this will end up back in the community’s hands one more time,through a jury.”
“I am extremely proud of the Rio Dell Police Department for their hard work on this case, in particular ChiefConner and Sergeant Beauchaine.” Rio Dell City Manager Kyle Knopp stated.