Murder Mountain (2018) s01e01 Episode Script

The Redwood Curtain

1 I remember one of the first times we went surfing.
Um And Garret, he had a little surfboard and I had a board, and I helped him catch a wave, and he really liked it.
He just caught on right away.
So, I had instilled a love for the ocean for him.
We would go fishing and things like that.
Couple years ago, I told him that we bought a lot in Mexico uh, that is like five minutes away from the water.
"Uh, it's a world-class surf spot, And I want to give it to you.
" He goes, "What?" You know, and he got all excited, and he was really, really, uh happy to hear that.
And I says, "Look, but you have to earn enough money to put up a little house on there.
" I says, "So, the sooner that you get the money, the sooner you can have it," you know.
So he said, "Okay, Dad.
" He got a job on a long-range fishing boat.
And then right about a week or so before he was supposed to leave, he calls me, and he says, "Dad, I decided not to go.
" I says, "Why not?" He says, "Because I know where I can make more money in a lesser amount of time.
" And I says, "Where?" He says, "Up in the medical marijuana fields up in Northern California.
" And I said, "No, son.
Don't even get involved with that, please.
" Humboldt, for people that don't know what we are all about, is always been known as an outlaw community.
You say, "Oh, yeah, I'm from Humboldt County," and people go, "Oh.
" Usually that's a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say-no-more situation where, um they're assuming that you're just a pot grower, that that's all you're really all about.
What allured me, and I know a lot of people, I think it's the freedom.
I think it was the idea of living in the great outdoors, off the grid, being self-sufficient.
That type of thing.
Things that are harmless, really.
People come up here from all over.
Humboldt County is a great destination to find yourself.
The redwoods, the mountains, the rivers, the ocean.
It's the most beautiful place in the world, in my opinion.
But there's a million places to disappear in Humboldt.
- Can I ask you a question? - Sure.
Are you a local? No, I'm just here visiting some friends and family.
-Oh, okay.
All right, thanks.
Hi, sorry, can I ask you a question? Are you a local? -Yeah.
-Um I'm looking for my daughter.
She's a missing person.
I actually come from Australia.
Oh, okay.
And -What's her name? -Her name is Asha.
I can't say I've seen her.
-All right.
Thank you.
There are fliers everywhere.
There's old cases that haven't been solved from 30 years ago.
Then there's cases from a couple years ago that are still unsolved and then there's new cases cropping up.
You could just tell that there's something going on up here.
Right? There's always a new missing person on front of the store.
There's always these signs.
It's alarming.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office and search and rescue posse continues the search for a missing woman in the Petrolia area.
Do we got folks from search and rescue? Awesome.
Thanks so much for coming.
And then we got the sheriff as well, so Yeah.
Thanks for being here.
So, what I would like to do is to go from her vehicle and do a ground search to where this river access is at.
Let's investigate that first, because that's daunting information that there's a foul smell uh, that may be related with something deceased.
It's called the Humboldt County Sheriff's Posse, is what we are.
We're volunteers.
We're there just to help.
Not only do we do search and rescue, we do evidence searches.
We'll help them out if somebody tosses a gun into a field.
We'll go and help them search for that gun if they can't find it.
Law enforcement in Humboldt is definitely spread thin.
They deal with a lot of things that other counties don't have to deal with.
I've found a few bodies, yup.
I've definitely found a few bodies.
But I think being able to, you know, at least return that child to his parents.
I think as a parent, not knowing, you know, where your child is you know, I'd much rather know.
It's a really difficult area.
You can bring out 100 personnel and air assets.
However, your search area becomes infinite once you rule out the high-probability areas.
After that, then it's just a matter of getting the word out to the community to be on the lookout for our missing person and to contact the sheriff's office.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public -to keep an eye out for a missing man.
-For a missing woman.
-Another man is missing.
-Mysteriously disappeared.
Last seen on Highway 36.
More missing people than any other county in California.
Why is that? There are a lot of missing people here.
I think a lot of people come up to Humboldt County to get away from life somewhere else.
So you already have a culture of people who kind of want to disappear.
A lot of the public opinion out there believe that there is possibly a serial killer.
It's crossed my mind.
You know, like, I couldn't-- That's one of the things that came across my mind.
"Maybe there's a serial killer that's killing all these people or something.
All these missing people.
" It's a really remote place.
This is why people came here in the first place, it's the remoteness.
It makes you kind of think, what if this guy came up here because he could get away with this? You know? That narrative is flashy and attractive and misleading.
If it's not a serial killer, then what is it? I-I do not-- If I knew, then I guess these wouldn't be unsolved cases.
What brings you to Northern California? I have come to Northern California looking for my daughter, who became a missing person on September 21st, 2015.
So you have had some reports and you followed up.
I get vague reports, yes.
But you would say nothing that you really felt like No.
I did have a girl, the other day, say that she spoke to someone with a tattoo like Asha's, and that made me feel really good.
I can imagine.
And how has local law enforcement responded? The local law enforcement, um yeah, it's a tricky it's a tricky thing in that they have been, I would say, overly kind to me, and they would lend me an ear at any time of the day or night.
However, their MO is different than what we may think it should be.
And you realize that it's really up to you, the individual family member She looks familiar, for some reason.
to lead the charge.
I believe that's because they have so many reports of missing people.
To leave an anonymous message, you can call 213-986-7671 or Facebook, "Help Find Asha Kreimer.
" Reporting for KMUD News, this is Eileen Russell.
There are so many missing persons in Humboldt County that law enforcement cannot possibly keep up with it.
Within the sheriff's department, a lot of times the missing persons detective is also a homicide detective.
This is where our records bureau, where we process, you know, 12,000 police reports every year.
And missing persons cases, crime reports, those kind of things.
I did have a question, as somebody who looks at a lot of crime and missing person cases.
Wouldn't it be easier to have one dude who looks at all these missing people rather than just spending it out, and You know, it all depends, because a voluntary missing person You know, we have our detective bureau that looks at these cases, and we have a caseload.
The problem is, when you have, you know, 20 homicides in a year, some of those things get pushed to the side.
And it's an important thing for us to do, absolutely, but we also, with the limited resources we have, we have to prioritize, you know.
And also, people have to work with us.
Especially in southern Humboldt, if there's a problem, they can't go to law enforcement, because their lifestyle and the way they've been making money has been illegal, and still is illegal, unless you have a permit, which those are few and far between even now.
What we are finding is that missing persons are very difficult to find in Humboldt County.
And a lot of that is tied back into the cannabis industry.
A harvest is a really big deal, because you're thinking, "We made it this far.
There's one last chance that we're going to get busted.
" A trimmer, or trimmigrant, would be anybody who comes to Humboldt specifically to make money during harvest trimming.
When I first started trimming, it was just hippie girls, mostly.
All the trimmers were women.
Mostly because Greg used to say, and I agree, that guys eat more, they drink more, and they sleep more.
Also, usually a hippie girl wouldn't come back and rob you.
But her boyfriend would.
I was just gonna stay for a year or two, and I couldn't ever leave.
I really fell in love with the lifestyle.
It just seemed like a different world that I couldn't believe it existed.
It's not easy, but it is a much more satisfying life than what I had my graduate degree in.
And it wasn't just the money, it was the community.
It was our cabin, it was our land, specifically.
That's our family business.
Kids come up here sometimes thinking this is one big reggae festival.
They feel like they're gonna come to paradise, that they're gonna make a ton of money, they're gonna be smoking weed, living the good life up in the forest, up in the mountains.
And when they get there, a lot of times they end up in dangerous situations.
And a lot of times, bad things happen, and a lot of times, it's not even close to what they think this Shangri-La trip of theirs is what they thought it was gonna be.
I found these four trimmers on the side of the road.
Just picked them up.
I liked them, they were cool, they were nice.
So that's why I brought them here, to work for me.
Trim the product from fresh cannabis into a marketable product to sell.
How long you been here? One month now.
-One month? -Yeah.
We can say that we were lucky because we found Carlos, and he's a really good guy and he care about us.
And the farm is really nice.
I'm from France.
We're from Brittany, north of France.
And we took the bus San Francisco, to here, Garberville.
Joanna and me were so scared, because we are only two girls who didn't know nobody here, you know, nothing here.
You're stuck up here? -Yes.
-You can't go? -No.
-No, because you don't have the car.
They sleep in the trailer, or in this room, wherever they're comfortable.
Then they come here and work 12 hours a day.
I pay $150 per pound, and the fast ones do two pounds a day; the slow ones get a pound a day.
There's grandmothers that live here and do this work that have, you know, this has been their life.
Boy, it looks so good.
I've never hired trimmigrants, personally.
I usually like to hire a local.
These are amazing.
They have no spurs.
They have no crow's feet.
It actually gives the essence and the beauty of the whole bud.
What I like to term sexiness.
You got to be cautious as well, because you're working with people that are either like myself that are open and cool and willing to more or less be your friend and not want anything from you, other than just your service to clean my weed.
Or you're gonna step into an environment with somebody-- they don't really care about your feelings at all.
They just want the work done and maybe a little something extra from you.
I heard weird stories.
One girl, you know, asking for a job, and he wanted her to work for him-- He wanted her to work topless.
And she refused.
But then I was coming up this other girl from the edge of the supermarket, and she, "Yeah, okay, I'll do it.
" Just jumped in, and they went off.
And I'm like, "What the fuck?" A lot of the trimmigrants is very trusting, jump in a car with anybody, go out, you know, 20 miles into who knows where.
Ten miles on a one-lane dirt road.
Poor cell phone reception here.
People don't realize that.
They come here, don't realize that cell phones don't work in 90% of the places.
It can be a very dangerous choice to go out in the hills and try to make the big money here.
A common thing to do in the beat one, which is the downtown, is to watch these bus stops.
You can kinda tell.
There's younger folks that think they're coming off here for the green gold.
And, uh step off the bus.
They think they're gonna step right into meeting somebody and getting a job trimming some weed, and making their millions, and coming back to home where they came from with loads of cash.
But chances are, when they step off the bus, especially here, um, there's a population of people that are waiting to take advantage of them.
Either rob them of whatever they've got, or take them into labor trafficking situations, even sex trafficking situations.
And that's not just the girls.
The guys, too, are trafficked.
Garret told me, "Dad, you know, I've never worked so hard in all my life.
I start early in the morning and I come in late at night.
And I'm just so tired.
" They really used him up there to do a lot.
Basically, he was in charge of their whole crop.
A lot of people from San Diego, hippie types that would go up there because they like to smoke weed, and want to be around weed.
So if you work for a month straight trimming bud, you got a good amount of money, you know? Um, but yeah, more seasonal.
What Garret was doing was, he was trying to go big time.
You know, like run a farm.
His intention was to stack up a couple hundred grand or something and retire in Mexico and fish.
And, you know Humboldt County any place, really, where there's a drug trade it's not that easy.
You got to be willing to do the dirt, or shut the fuck up and get the fuck out as soon as humanly possible.
I would at least get a call from him maybe once every two weeks, and we would talk for a long time.
Over the months, I think it was maybe about a year or so he had been up there, and then all of a sudden, the calls stopped.
And then right away, I started thinking to myself, "Something happened.
" One of the driving motivations of coming here was to seek self-sufficiency.
We were gonna grow our own food; we were gonna grow our own staples.
One of the staples of a hippie lifestyle is marijuana.
So you grow lettuce, you plant a seed of lettuce, you plant a seed of pot.
We didn't come here to grow weed.
We came here because in our various ways, we were escaping something.
Some people were escaping a war that had gone on for years.
Some people were returning from that war as veterans who had seen whatever ugliness they saw and wanted to escape that.
Some people were running to something.
Some people were running to a lifestyle which was more attractive than that which was offered by the mainstream society.
The old-timers came here to hide, basically.
This was a place where you could do it.
And the growing was a way to survive.
They didn't come here to plant fields of cannabis.
But it soon turned into that.
I think the reason why Humboldt County became Humboldt County is because it has these woods and it has these hills.
The advantage that we had over other places in California, in terms of growing marijuana, is our geographic isolation and how easy it is to hide your crop from law enforcement.
There's nothing special about the soil in Humboldt County, the climate here in Humboldt County, you know, that makes it overall the best place to grow marijuana in the world.
It's just our geography.
That's really what it comes down to, is you can hide.
You can hide in the hills, you can hide behind several locked gates and private roads under the canopy of the redwood forest, your marijuana.
You get to Humboldt, there's a redwood curtain there at the county line.
The redwood curtain says that you're here, you've arrived.
In the old days, people would come up here and they would load up here right here, and they would put a lookout down there, and one down here.
They would go up this hill on the ranch, and they would have a better position so they could see everything.
They would be up there with walkie-talkies and the whole thing.
People were so paranoid back then.
Oh, God.
You could get ten years or more just for conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
I don't know if you've ever had one gun pointed at you before.
When you have 20, it's a little unsettling.
I've been under the blades running a lot, but they could never catch me.
These were people that had lived their whole lives on the outlaw side of the coin that all of a sudden have been welcomed back into high society, civilization.
They were criminals, straight up.
Now, they want to be law-abiding citizens, and the state has given them a pathway to do that.
The approval of Prop 64 launches the state on establishing a system for moving marijuana from the black market to the retail market.
It's Humboldt; it's the Emerald Triangle.
This is gonna be the new Sonoma County of the pot industry.
You take, like, Napa for instance, and their operation is their region, and the soil, and the water, and everything that creates these wonderful grapes.
The marijuana world hasn't really had the opportunity to prove that yet, just because of being illegal.
This marketing guy told us that the name Humboldt has as much equity as Coca-Cola or something.
So that made me hopeful.
I thought, well, you know, it certainly means that to me, so maybe that'll be able to be our ace in the hole.
Just the Humboldt legacy.
We're giving amnesty for people while they come in the permit process.
The state has allowed them to continue to grow, to go through the permit process, and start paying their taxes and doing things right.
Going legal, there's a lot we're gaining, there's a lot that we're losing.
-That's awesome! We're gaining freedom from fear dignity.
I know.
I have hid in the woods with my children when I was pregnant while the helicopters totally circled.
Daddy can't-- Daddy said they're probably broken.
What are you losing? I feel we're gonna lose a little bit of our community, our sense of what makes Humboldt Humboldt.
This is the last outlaw harvest, yeah.
When it comes down to making a decision whether you're going to stop when the lights are flashing behind you, or if that means go.
An outlaw always chooses go.
People think that a change in the dynamic of the marketplace that Prop 64 is gonna bring is gonna be able to stop the people with that kind of tenacity then I don't think they have the slightest clue on what goes on in this county.
Well, since arriving here, I've been shot at, I've been beaten, I've been kidnapped three times.
Had a gun shoved in my mouth, tied to a chair.
Kicked down a flight of stairs.
Hunted ruthlessly through town.
And I don't think I'll ever leave.
I love it here.
Before I moved out here, I worked in politics in Utah as a campaign manager and as a lobbyist.
I got burned out on it pretty quick.
I actually came here by accident.
Our car ended up breaking down in Garberville.
And we needed to replace the starter in the Buick.
Got a job at the local Chinese place for well, pretty much the first day I was here.
And, uh trimming job a couple weeks later.
And the next thing you knew, I was up on the hill.
Up until the '90s, we had your basic hippie growers in the hills.
We had a lot of ranchers.
We still have the timber industry, the fishing industry.
This was a nice, artsy, quaint but industrial town.
But in the '90s, the population of these small communities in the hills went from, you know, 50, 60 people up to a couple thousand.
We have 4,000 square miles of jurisdiction.
And we have 15,000 illegal grows up here.
It is unbelievable.
Greed has fueled this industry, and that greed will continue to push people into violence and to cutting their bottom line wherever they can.
This is not the hippie marijuana industry anymore.
You are taking your life in your own hands if you go up in these areas and you work for one of these unpermitted growers.
Any underground industry has its seedy side.
That's why they call it the underground.
You have people coming here with this idealistic view that they're going to make some money for the entire year by trimming marijuana in Humboldt County.
Well, they're putting themselves at huge risk.
And you could end up dead in a ravine.
And it has happened, and it is happening, and that's where we need to focus our law enforcement efforts.
We need to figure out how to make this industry more safe for the people who are involved in it.
And I think legalization will provide that in the end.
This area out in Alderpoint, there's zero police, there's zero protection.
Everyone's out for themselves.
You're putting up fences, you're having loaded weapons um, and you got to feel safe, and that's the only way to do it.
Trinity, Humboldt, Mendocino.
Alderpoint is almost literally in the epicenter.
Alderpoint is a very unique area.
So this is an area of southern Humboldt County that uh, that area, we refer to it as Murder Mountain.
I was working on Murder Mountain before I ever knew it was called Murder Mountain.
I don't know if you heard that name, Murder Mountain? I think the name says it all.
Right over that mountain, Murder Mountain.
Go down Bell Springs a ways, start seeing cars piled up on top of each other three and four high.
All the serial numbers blasted off 'em with a torch.
Who knows where the fucking bodies are at? Murder Mountain is not a mystery.
You go up there to work in a secluded area and do a risky trade with risky, shady people, and a lot of that property's changed hands so many times because none of the locals want to buy it.
So if you have money and you want to invest in this area, and you want to grow on it, you look for whatever's available.
A lot of people will go there and buy it, 'cause it's either affordable or it's the only thing on the market.
You want an outlaw community, that's the Alderpoint area.
I helped the sheriff's department with a shooting they had up there, the investigation a few years ago.
And I had not been up there in that vicinity since the '80s.
And just saw what it had become.
And I went up in a caravan of sheriff's deputies for this investigation, and in front of our column to the rear of our column I see guys jump out in Enduro motorcycles with shotguns strapped to their backs.
And I start to reach for my sidearm, and the deputy I was with assured me, "Don't worry about it.
That's what they do.
They're just escorting us through the area.
" And I thought, "Are you kidding me? We're the police.
What do you mean, they're escorting us?" They were working security for the marijuana farms there.
It was something else to see that that existed here, in America, in Humboldt County.
It's their own law up there.
It's their own country, and they just kinda rule things how they rule 'em, run 'em how they run 'em.
It's like a surreal Mad Max scenario.
If you don't have protection from the law, you have to be the law.
They have their own forms of justice, because they live in the backwoods for a reason.
It looks like pretty much everything's just been destroyed.
This was my house.
My cabin.
Looks like what they didn't steal, they just broke.
Couple of guys we hired about two months ago.
I fired 'em, but I didn't think that was a big enough reason they'd totally fuck my life up.
Yeah, shit's all gone.
Cloning room, lights, fans.
I don't think we'll be back up and running for probably at least a month.
Maybe two months, which could cost just about everything.
The peace and love thing kinda went out with the '70s, and anymore it's it's all about the power of the dollar, and pretty much everybody for themselves.
If somebody does you wrong, you need to get 'em back.
It's the last vestige of the Wild West.
Oh, yes.
We begged Garret not to go to Humboldt.
But there was no talking him out of it.
He had heard about a potential job to make a lot of money in what was called Murder Mountain.
I'd first heard the name Murder Mountain from someone that Garret had communicated with on a regular basis.
And she said that she had already been up there to see him.
She had gone to visit him, and she said that Garret was in with a really bad crowd, and they weren't anything like Garret was used to.
She just was warning me.
She was telling me that Garret's in danger.
You know, he has to get out of there as quickly as possible.
Last time I saw Garret, um he had phoned me and said that they needed an SUV, a four-wheel drive up there.
So we went car lot to car lot.
We finally found one, and the one that he wanted I think it was a Dodge Ram.
He got in the truck.
And I left him there at the parking lot.
Another man is believed to be missing somewhere in the hills of Humboldt County.
Today, the sheriff's office issued a press release asking for the public's assistance in finding 29-year-old Garret Rodriguez.
He is reportedly driving a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup truck.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.
So, you're at your residence.
What do you notice? You said something about A bunch of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles pass my place.
I stay by myself.
I'm an isolationist.
Since Vietnam.
I moved to the Redwoods to get away from civilization.
And I'm in no way involved with the crime.
I'll reiterate.
If you've done nothing wrong there's nothing to worry about.