Missing Eureka Woman Found Dead in Impounded Van Driven by Son

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Christine Ann Randolph - EPD
  • EPD
  • Christine Ann Randolph
UPDATE:
An autopsy performed Oct. 14 on Christine Ann Randolph's remains found no obvious signs of foul play, Capt. Gregory Van Patten told the Journal, adding final findings remain pending toxicology results and the case remains under investigation as a suspicious death.

PREVIOUSLY:
The body of a Eureka woman reported missing earlier this week after losing contact with friends and family Oct. 8 while traveling with her son was found Wednesday inside a vehicle impounded by law enforcement after her son allegedly crashed it three days earlier.

According to a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office press release, 53-year-old Christine Ann Randolph's body was located on the “concaved flooring” of the van, which was involved in an Oct. 8 crash in Willits, “concealed by the large number of belongings, ” which included "clothing, luggage and living supplies."

“At this time there is an active coroner's investigation in an attempt to determine the classification and cause of Randolph's death,” the release states.

An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

Randolph’s 26-year-old son, Root Harvest Birimisa, was arrested Oct. 8 after reportedly fleeing the scene of  the Willits crash, which was reported at about 3 p.m. He was booked into the Mendocino County jail just before 6 p.m. on suspicion of driving under the influence and hit and run, according to jail records.

Birimisa had been released from the Humboldt County jail less than 24 hours before the crash — at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 7 — after posting bail following his late September arrest on suspicion of committing assault with intent to rape during a burglary and lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14.

The Eureka Police Department had issued a request for public assistance in locating Randolph on Oct. 10, one day after starting a missing person’s investigation.

“During the investigation officers and detectives began to follow up on several leads in an effort to locate Randolph,” a release from the EPD states. “A multijurisdictional response was launched with the assistance of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Fortuna Police Department, California Highway Patrol, California Parks, Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the MCSO,  which is now leading the case, investigators learned “Randolph's family had become concerned for her safety” after hearing her son had been arrested, which led  EPD to obtain a search warrant for the impounded van in which Randolph was found.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information about the case to contact detectives through the tip line at (707) 234-2100 or by using the WeTip anonymous crime reporting hotline at (800) 782-7463.

Read the full MCSO release below:

On 10-08-2023 at approximately 3:00 PM the California Highway Patrol was notified of a reported traffic collision in the area of Sherwood Road and Birch Terrace in Willits, California (Brooktrails Subdivision).

After the collision, the driver of one of the vehicles, a Toyota Sienna van fled the traffic collision scene. The reported traffic collision prompted the response of CHP officers and Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies to assist as needed. Upon arrival, CHP officers interviewed the one motorist at the traffic collision scene and also located the Toyota Sienna van unoccupied a distance away from the collision scene.

The motorist provided a physical description of the driver of the Toyota Sienna van which was subsequently given to the Sheriff's Deputies who thereafter located the driver walking on Birch Street.

A CHP officer responded to Birch Street and contacted the driver in connection with the traffic collision investigation. This resulted in the CHP officer placing the driver, Root Harvest Birimisa (26-year-old male from Eureka, CA), under arrest for DUI and hit and run resulting in property damage. Birimisa was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail. As a result of the arrest, the CHP officer had the Toyota Sienna van towed and stored by a Willits area towing company.

On 10-09-2023 the Eureka Police Department initiated a missing persons investigation into the reported disappearance of Christine Ann Randolph (53-year-old female from Eureka, CA). During the investigation Officers and Detectives in Humboldt County began to follow up on several leads in an effort to locate Randolph.

A multijurisdictional response was launched by the Eureka Police Department with the assistance of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Fortuna Police Department, California Highway Patrol, California State Parks, Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators learned Randolph's family had become concerned for her safety after learning of Birimisa's 10-08-2023 arrest. Birmisa was identified as being Randolph's son and that the pair were known to be traveling together. On 10-11-2023 Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives assisted Investigators from the Eureka Police Department who had obtained a search warrant authorizing a search of the Toyota Sienna van in connection with the missing persons investigation.

The interior of the Toyota Sienna van was packed with a significant number of belongings to include clothing, luggage and living supplies. Investigators began removing the belongings and subsequently located a deceased female adult who was located in a section of concaved flooring which was concealed by the large number of belongings. The female adult was identified as being Randolph and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office assumed investigative lead into the circumstances of her death.

At this time there is an active coroner's investigation in an attempt to determine the classification and cause of Randolph's death. A forensic autopsy has been scheduled for 10-14-2023 to include blood alcohol and toxicology analysis.

Anyone who might have information which could assist Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Detectives is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office Tip-Line at 707-234-2100 or the WeTip anonymous crime reporting hotline at 800-782-7463.

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