CA CA - Rev. Leslie Crane, 39, Laytonville, 18 Nov 2005

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Reverend Leslie Charles Crane
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Case# 05-3982

Date of birth: 4 February 1966
Place of birth: Norwich, CT
White male, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 210 pounds, brown hair and eyes.

Leslie Crane moved to Mendocino County CA three years before his death. He sold out a tie-dye business in Florida, and arrived in northern California with $100 and a dog. Operating under the provisions of the county's Measure G, which legalized personal use amounts of marijuana, he prospered.

On 1 April 2004, he opened a medical marijuana co-operative under the legal provisions of California's Proposition 215 of 1996. After the U.S. Supreme Court's 6 June 2005 decision that federal agents could continue to enforce federal law against marijuana usage, Crane changed the name of his Laytonville co-operative from Mendo Remedies to Mendo Spiritual Remedies. He claimed a religious right to marijuana usage, and began to refer to himself as a minister. He stated that he thought marijuana dispensaries should be regulated by a governmental body. Despite a raid on a Ukiah dispensary, Crane vowed to keep his church-run co-op open.

In mid-July 2005, Crane ran a personal ad for a week seeking contact with Proposition 215 patients who had had their marijuana gardens raided. On 20 July, he was arrested by the California Highway Patrol for DUI.

Crane opened the Hemp Plus church and dispensary in Ukiah in September 2005. In mid-October, he was fencing with Ukiah's city government, promising not to sell marijuana but claiming patient necessity for the drug. A reporter witnessed several uses of medical marijuana, but no sales. By now, the Laytonville site had 800 clients, and the Ukiah one 200. Later that month, Crane called the Sheriff's Office for protection against an impending robbery. Crane claimed the District Attorney had granted him permission to grow all the marijuana possible in a 10 foot by 10 foot square area. The responding deputies checked the paperwork for the pot plants Crane was growing for his clients. They then fetched a search warrant, arrested him for marijuana cultivation, and confiscated $6,000 in gold and 5,000 marijuana plants. Crane was scheduled for arraignment on 2 November 2005. On 16 November, Crane spent $7,000 of his own money to donate 350 turkeys to the local food bank. He had also begun sponsoring a teen center in Laytonville.

At about 2 AM on 18 November 2005, a black-clad and masked armed raiding party of four to six home invaders burst into Crane's residence on Road 307 in Laytonville screaming repeatedly, “This is a raid”. One of Crane's friends was beaten in his sleep by an intruder. Crane's fiancee opened her bedroom door; she was struck over the head, and her left arm was also broken by a baseball bat. Irked by her fervent prayers for help, a raider shot at her but missed. There were five or six other shots fired elsewhere in the house at about the same time, as Crane was shot in the arm, abdomen, and the back of his head. Meanwhile, the original victim had managed to slide out of sight; he called 911. The intruders left with the contents of Crane's safe, and a considerable amount of market-ready marijuana. When the deputies responded to the call, they removed armfuls of marijuana plants while processing the murder scene.

A memorial service was held for Leslie Charles Crane at Westport CA at noon on 10 December 2005. A reward of $3,800 was raised by Crane's friends for information leading to the murderers. A detective working the case said that while forensic analysis was still in process, re-interviewing of involved parties was ongoing.

On 9 March 2006, a holdup of Crane's old dispensary in Laytonville was foiled in the act. The Sheriff's Office denied any connection between the robbery and Crane's murder; however, it stated that forensic lab work was not yet complete, but the Crane case was active. The case remains unsolved and listed by MCSO as a cold case.

Information concerning this active homicide case may be called in to the MCSO Tipline at 707-234-2100. Their Investigative Services Bureau may be emailed to barneys@co.mendocino.ca.us. The Sheriff's Office can also be reached at 951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482.

Sources:

Findagrave website: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Crane&GSfn=Leslie&GSmn=Charles&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=86804059&df=all&

Ukiah Daily Journal, 16 June 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/1126630/?terms=Crane
UDJ, 13 July 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/search/#lnd=1&query=Crane&ymd=2005-07-13&t=33
UDJ, 20 July 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/1122615/?terms=Crane
UDJ, 13 October 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/527470/?terms=Crane
UDJ, 25 October 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/529800/?terms=Crane;https://www.newspapers.com/image/529960/?terms=Crane
UDJ, 19 November 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/1351497/?terms=marijuana;https://www.newspapers.com/image/1351602/?terms=marijuana
UDJ, 25 November 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/1352627/?terms=Crane
UDJ, 4 December 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/1352627/?terms=Crane
UDJ, 7 December 2005: https://www.newspapers.com/image/1345724/?terms=Crane;https://www.newspapers.com/image/1345607/?terms=Crane
UDJ, 17 March 2006: https://www.newspapers.com/image/388948/?terms=Crane;https://www.newspapers.com/image/389064/?terms=Crane

MCSO website: http://www.mendocinosheriff.com/missing/coldcases.html
 
Found another article with some intriguing info:
Les Crane killers remain at large more than 7 years after murder

While Les lay dying, he was asked, "Who did this to you?"

His reply was, "They came to see The Count today."

"The Count" is the nickname of the friend who hid and called the cops. As I wondered if The Count was the actual intended victim, I googled his real name, with no luck.

Can anyone else find anything on The Count?
 
This guy appears to be the Count and refers to himself that way in “about.” If he’s smart he left the area.

PolygoneicusPeterPan on DeviantArt

Probably he’s not someone we can sleuth though.

Here is an article gleaned from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat with more names. Crane’s son thinks those involved were more into meth due to the violence. But there is plenty of violence associated with the marijuana industry. A friend said he warned Crane about his high profile making other growers upset because they were more likely to be a target of LE.

US CA: Pot Activist Likely Knew Killers
 
Great finds, Lilibet.

Nonetheless, the fact that Les said the intruders were after The Count shows that he recognized his murderers.
 
Great finds, Lilibet.

Nonetheless, the fact that Les said the intruders were after The Count shows that he recognized his murderers.

Yes, so it’s quite likely they were local, unless The Count had been in touch with people from out of the area. So many of them were/are ruthless.

When we lived in Humboldt there were several murders by people who came from the Bay Area to rip off growers after the harvest. One time they went down the wrong driveway and killed a women, thinking she was refusing to give them her crop. She was a teacher and didn’t grow. Our neighbor across the road killed a man coming to steal from her. I assume there had been some prior contact in order for these outsiders to know where to go (usually).
 
My point is, Les and The Count both had to know the invader(s). If so, then The Count is probably the key to cracking this murder.

And I find myself wondering whether Les brought his death on himself by boasting about the pot and money at his place, or whether one of his intimates was the inside guy in the robbery.
 
I feel a bit weird "welcoming" you, given the circumstances...but we are happy to have you join us. There is a special status on this site for folks such as yourself, known as Verified Insider. A Verified Insider has special privileges when it comes to posting.

Again, Jeremiah, glad to have you aboard, whatever your status.
 
I feel a bit weird "welcoming" you, given the circumstances...but we are happy to have you join us. There is a special status on this site for folks such as yourself, known as Verified Insider. A Verified Insider has special privileges when it comes to posting.

Again, Jeremiah, glad to have you aboard, whatever your status.
Thanks sorry I took so long to reply honestly I was nervous to see if anyone actually responded. Hell I wasn't going to make a profile <modsnip>. And if it helps at all ill share anything I know and can remember
 
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@Jeremiah Crane , indeed it is odd to "welcome" you. So sorry to learn of your situation and hope you've been supported well since your father's passing.

Here is the link to become a Verified Insider:

Verification Process for Professional or Insider Posters

We may ask prying questions, but we do intend to help people here!
I emailed the link I hope my info was satisfactory. I don't mind being asked anything it's something I've exhaustively spoke , wrote on and drove myself up many a wall over but this is the first time in a long time I've felt compelled to insert myself into a forum like this. Id come to expect either nothing fruitful to a complete headache / disaster any of the previous attempts id made to engage online or otherwise about this.
 
@Jeremiah Crane , indeed it is odd to "welcome" you. So sorry to learn of your situation and hope you've been supported well since your father's passing.

Here is the link to become a Verified Insider:

Verification Process for Professional or Insider Posters

We may ask prying questions, but we do intend to help people here!
Thank you I'm not sure exactly how supported id been I was 18 when it happened and it was a crazy ride ill call it, trying to run things in that vacuum. Never really got a grasp on anything in time to realize I was still a dumb kid , and was pretty much run out of the area myself. But id love to see something come of this and am happy to help however possible
 
I’m just catching up on this thread, and I’m glad you’re here @Jeremiah Crane. And I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. <modsnip>

Have you been verified as an insider yet?
 
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A few interesting tidbits from The Anderson Valley Advertiser June 2013–not exactly mainstream media and very opinionated, but interesting, nonetheless:

GOOD TO READ that Linda Williams of the Willits News has re-visited the unsolved 2005 murder of Les Crane, a Laytonville marijuana crusader shot to death in his home by a group of four invaders, maybe more. The constant reminders of Mendocino County atrocities help keep the victims alive, in that their families and other persons close to the victims know that the crime has not been forgotten.

—————

THE MURDER OF LES CRANE is unusual in the number of persons involved. Usually, when a group of mopes do a serious crime, one of them is soon arrested for something else and, eager for a reduced sentence for that something else, the mope trades inside information on, say, Crane's messy dispatch. But that hasn't happened.

—————

WE'D FORGOTTEN that Ukiah 'Sativa' Morrison worked for Crane. Morrison has just moved in on the unsuspecting Dorothea Dorman on Radical Ridge north of Ukiah after three successive evictions. He's been in and out of the Mendo news for years as a negative advertisement for marijuana, and if I were a cop I would have debriefed him long and hard about the Crane matter. There's also speculation that the people who killed Crane also killed Chris Giauque. These people are said to comprise a kind of Laytonville-Spy Rock mafia with whom it is unwise to mess.
BBM

Off The Record
 
Found another article with some intriguing info:
Les Crane killers remain at large more than 7 years after murder

While Les lay dying, he was asked, "Who did this to you?"

His reply was, "They came to see The Count today."

"The Count" is the nickname of the friend who hid and called the cops. As I wondered if The Count was the actual intended victim, I googled his real name, with no luck.

Can anyone else find anything on The Count?

I can’t open this link anymore, but the entire article is quoted in the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Note that Ukiah Morrison, referred to as “Sativa” Morrison in my previous post is quoted:

IN THE NOVEMBER 19, 2005 edition of the Ukiah Daily Journal, reporter Laura Clark described the Crane murder:

“Les Crane, 39, owner of Mendo Spiritual Remedies in Laytonville and Hemp Plus Ministry in Ukiah, was shot to death at his Laytonville home early Friday morning.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Detective Commander D.J. Miller said Crane was killed about 2:30 a.m. in the home invasion. 'The investigation has disclosed it appears to be robbery motivated. An undisclosed amount of currency and processed marijuana was stolen,' Miller said.

Yellow tape surrounded the Road 307 residence Friday, where investigators from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, evidence technicians and members of the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team could be seen taking photographs and measurements, and periodically carrying armfuls of marijuana from a building.

Law enforcement at the scene would not disclose any more information, but a sign in the driveway spoke volumes: 'Mendo Spiritual Remedies. In God we trust, Rev. Les Crane . God Gave it to us and no one can take it away. Welcome to our church.'

In the midst of all the activity, a man drove up and said to one of the sheriff's officers: 'I just came by to see Les, but maybe this is a bad time.'

A visit later in the day to the Hemp Plus Ministry revealed the darkest details of what happened to Crane.

'Reverend Crane was killed last night; I was there,' said a visibly shaken Jennifer Drewry, as she sat inside the cannabis distribution center Friday afternoon, cradling her left arm, which was broken and in a sling from the beating she took during the ordeal.

'I was there while they were killing him,' Drewry, Crane's fiancé said, before recounting the ordeal, which could be described as nothing less than horrific.

'Les was in bed sleeping. I was sleeping in another bedroom,' she said, noting she woke up to the sound of footsteps. 'Four to six guys ... they were wearing all black with black masks. ... They busted down the door and all you could hear them saying was 'This is a raid, this is a raid, this is a raid,' she said, noting the voices sounded young.

First, one of the men walked in and beat another of the home's residents, 20-year-old Sean Dirlam — also known as "The Count" — while he slept, she said.

Then she said she opened her door and one of the men — this one not wearing a mask — hit her over the head. 'The men in the masks stayed with Les, killing him and taking his medical marijuana and his money. I was on my hands and knees praying to God, too loud I guess, so the one guy told him to shoot me, but he missed, and then I heard five or six other gunshots. I was too scared to look up after that, so I waited until it was quiet and then I ran into Les's room. He was lying there; he could still talk. There was a lot of blood. The Count was hiding, talking to 911. .... It had to be 15 minutes before anyone showed up. It was a long time ... I was out of my mind. They wouldn't let me sit with him,' she said referring to emergency personnel. 'I told them they are torturing me; he's dying ... I knew I only had a couple minutes; he was dying,' she said, noting Crane was shot in the back of the head, in an arm and in his abdomen. 'There was so much blood I couldn't see all the holes,' she said.

'He just asked me to marry him two weeks ago. I was planning a wedding; now I have to plan a funeral,' Drewry said. 'They ruined my life and took my dreams away from me — all for money and greed,' she said, by this time sobbing.

Crane supplied medical marijuana to more than 1,000 people in Mendocino County. Mendo Spiritual Remedies serves more than 800 people in the Laytonville area and Hemp Plus Ministry, which opened about two months ago in Ukiah, already has 350 clients, according to those who worked there.

Christina Bagby — who referred to herself, Crane and his friend, Ukiah Morrison, as reverends — works at the Ukiah ministry.

'We believe that cannabis is the tree of life. In the Bible it does say the tree of life will be called upon to heal the nation. We believe that tree is cannabis. We promote hemp awareness.'

Morrison also works there, and like Bagby, spoke nothing but kind words about Crane.

'He was very thankful to be alive and to help the community. That was his only objective in life — to help others,' Morrison said of the man he called his best friend. 'He spent $7,000 of his own money to buy 350 turkeys both for Ukiah Food Bank and Laytonville Food Bank,' he added.

Quoting from the Bible, Morrison said: 'Greater work than I have done, shall you do. Les Crane embodied that and he helped uplift the community. ... He was definitely my super hero and mentor. He was like a father to most of us.'

Laytonville residents The Daily Journal spoke with Friday said Crane did indeed do some good in the community: His teen center was clean and sober and the teens did use it. He also gave to charities.

Other residents said Crane hung out with what some perceived as undesirables — for instance other large scale pot growers. Some described him as loud and boisterous and said he had his share of scrapes with the law ... that he was courting trouble.

In October, District Attorney Norm Vroman brought cultivation of marijuana charges against Crane, who adamantly proclaimed his innocence.

'Anyone that is a patient that would like to stand up, please join me and stand up against the tyranny,' Crane said at the time. 'It isn't a controlled substance to me. This is a medicine and those laws do not apply to patients.'

Morrison and Drewry both believe Crane's killer was somebody he knew.

'As he was breathing ... after he had been shot several times, I asked him, Who did this to you? and he said, They came to see The Count today, Drewry said, adding, 'They came to rob the marijuana there and a safe. They took it all.'

'He always told Hemp Ministry workers, Don't hesitate to open the safe; it's not worth a life,' Morrison said, noting Crane was trusting because the money was irrelevant to his cause. Crane's door was probably unlocked, Morrison said. However, Morrison added, 'He was not an idiot; he knew his work was risky.'

Crane came to Mendocino County several years ago with $100 and a dog after selling his tie-dye business in Florida. He had heard Mendocino County had passed Measure G supporting legalization of marijuana in the county for personal use. He turned the $100 into a sizable profit that harvest year and took that nest egg and started the dispensary and then opened a youth center in Laytonville.

'He was a true American. I don't want him to be forgotten. I just heard him say the other day, The more you give out, the more you receive to give out the next day,' Morrison said.

Law enforcement officials are seeing more violence sparked by marijuana.

'This time of the year there is always the potential for violence in marijuana grows due to the quantity of marijuana and the large sums of money that are exchanged,' Miller said.”
Off The Record
 
There is always the question, How did they know he kept money and weed at home, when he had business premises where he could have secured it?
 

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