The Humboldt County Coroner’s Office has identified the two people found dead in an apparent murder-suicide
in Fortuna on Sunday as Wendell Bott IV, 48, and his son, Wendell Bott V, 20.
Fortuna Police Chief Casey Day said police were alerted to the possible murder of Wendell Bott V by a family member who came into the station about 4:40 p.m. asking to speak to an officer. According to Day, the relative had received a series of text messages from Wendell Bott IV, including photos that depicted what appeared “to be an adult human under some blankets with blood on the bedding” and a photo of himself holding a gun to his head with a warning that “the family member was going to be planning two funerals.” In additional photos sent to the family member, Day said, it “appeared the family dog or dogs were killed.”
Day said police immediately responded to the Botts’ residence to try to make contact with Wendell Bott IV, beginning an hours-long standoff during which officers heard a single gunshot. When they later made entry into the home, Day said they located Wendell Bott IV dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his son dead of a gunshot wound. Day said it appears Wendell Bott V had been killed up to several days earlier, as there was “physical evidence that led investigator to believe he had been deceased for some time.”
The family’s dogs were not found at the scene, Day said, and their whereabouts and condition were unknown as of yesterday afternoon.
Day said the family member who approached police had previously lived at the residence but left earlier this month.
While the incident was traumatic for all involved, Day said he is “extremely proud” of the professionalism of his department and allied agencies as they responded to the scene, evacuated neighbors from nearby residences and attempted to make contact with Wendell Bott IV.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and the survivors of the victim,” Day said. “It’s a horrific loss of life.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) lists increases in alcohol and drug use, aggressive behavior, dramatic mood swings, impulsive or reckless behavior, and withdrawal from friends, family and social circles as warning signs that someone may be suicidal.
"Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency," NAMI warns, adding that if someone you know or love and worry about starts collecting or saving pills, or buys a weapon, begins giving away possessions or tying up loose ends (like organizing personal papers, paying off debts, or saying goodbye to friends and family), you should seek immediate help from a healthcare provider or call 911.
For the organization's full list of risk factors and tips for offering support to someone in crisis, visit nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Risk-of-Suicide
The county of Humboldt maintains a 24-hour mental health crisis line at 445-7715. Additionally, a national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255 and a crisis help text line can be reached by texting "HELP" to 741-741. Additional local, state and national resources for those in distress and their loved ones can be found at humboldtgov.org/2096/Suicide-Prevention-Resources
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