By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
An elderly Brookings couple was found shot in their home Monday afternoon, and a Crescent City man, considered a person of interest, is in custody.
Gregory Arthur Hoenshell, 21, was arrested on Pacific Avenue in Crescent City yesterday at 10:40 a.m. on five outstanding Del Norte County warrants for cruelty to a child, assault and battery, cruelty to animals, forgery, resisting arrest and burglary.
Hoenshell is the grandson of the murdered couple and was seen driving a car belonging to his grandparents shortly before their bodies were found.
Curry County police identified the couple as Edward Leroy Hoenshell, 77, and Dorothy Elaine Hoenshell, 72. They were discovered in their Brookings home by real estate agents at 2:39 p.m. Monday. The house is apparently for sale and the agents let themselves in.
The murdered couples vehicle, a burgundy 1992 Buick, was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Super 8 Motel in Crescent City by California Highway Patrol officers at 9:30 p.m. Monday. Hoenshell had not registered there, according to the motel.
Authorities are not releasing some details surrounding the deaths because of the ongoing investigation, but they did say the deceased couple suffered gunshot wounds and others were being sought for questioning.
There are some other persons of interest down in California in the Crescent City area and we are looking for them at this time, said Detective David L. Gardiner of the Curry County Major Crimes Team.
Crescent City police had a home on Mason Court staked out early Tuesday morning. Their actions are believed to be connected to the homicide investigation.
A Crescent City acquaintance of Hoenshells, who asked not to be identified but who also was interviewed by police, said she saw Hoenshell twice on Monday.
First, he came by here at 9 a.m. driving their car, she said. I asked him how he got the car and he said he argued with them (his grandparents) for a while and they finally gave in. Hoenshell then gave the woman a ride to a babysitting appointment she had.
She claims to have later seen Hoenshell at around 2 p.m. at the Elk Valley Casino where he asked her for money.
He asked me for a dollar to play one of the machines. I gave him a couple of bucks. The woman didnt learn of the deaths until later that evening.
He didnt act weird ... well ... by his standards he seemed fine anyway.
Sherri Estelle, the stepmother to Hoenshells siblings, said she was shocked by the news of the deaths.
These were very nice, loving, compassionate people. They loved the Lord, Estelle said. I was in a car accident in Medford and they were the only family that came over to see me.
I pray in my heart and soul that Greg (Hoenshell) is in no relation to this crime. I know he has a fear of going to prison. Hes had a lot of trouble with the law, Estelle said.
On Tuesday, other family members were struggling with the murders.
Im very confused, said Abigal Estelle, Dorothy Hoenshells daughter. Were still sitting here wondering what happened and why.
John Gordon, Dorothys Hoenshells son, said, Im angry but I dont really know at what.
He mentioned that Greg had recently become involved with an extreme racist group, possibly the Aryan Brotherhood. Maybe someone with that group is responsible, he said.
She added that her mother kept the house well locked up and didnt open it to many people.
Brookings interim chief of police, Chris Wallace, said he was appreciated all the assistance he received.
Weve had a lot of help with the agencies in California, Wallace said. I think its outstanding to see this kind of mutual aid and have agencies come together like this.
The results of preliminary autopsies are expected today, authorities said.
Staff members from the Curry Coastal Pilot contributed to this report.