Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Del Norte County Sheriff’s investigators have yet to disclose the name of a subject found dead inside a house in north Crescent City Thursday, but many believe it’s a local woman — Emiley Tesch — who was reportedly last seen just before Christmas 2018.

Detectives are also seeking a person of interest in the case, the husband of the missing woman, Edward C. Hughes, 35.

Sheriff Erik Apperson said while it’s plausible that investigators have located the body of Emiley Tesch Hughes, 31, of Crescent City, an official disclosure will not occur until a positive identification is determined by autopsy.

In a phone interview Friday morning, Apperson explained Emiley was first reported missing on Feb. 1 by her grandmother, who said she hadn’t heard from her since about Dec. 23.

Apperson said his department created a missing person report and flyers, and registered her name with law enforcement databases at the time.

The following day, Emiley’s mother, Rawnda Tesch called the sheriff’s office to report Emiley was alive and well with her boyfriend in Eureka, and had no intention of coming home, Apperson said.

Asked Friday afternoon, Apperson said investigators did not know the identity of the boyfriend or could they confirm if he exists at all.

“We have not been able to confirm (Emiley) had even been in Eureka,” Apperson said, noting Rawnda said she’d heard the information from a trusted friend.

While that information might have changed Emiley’s status to “voluntarily missing,” Apperson said detectives continued to investigate her as missing, since the information could not be confirmed.

On Feb 11, detectives received an anonymous report Emiley may have been deceased inside her last known residence.

“The information did not meet the legal standard to establish probable cause” a sheriff’s press release said. “Over the next couple of days, the DNSO attempted to gain legal entry into the home multiple times.”

When Emiley’s grandmother returned to the home on Feb. 14, she detected an unusual odor in the home and notified authorities, the release said.

“The DNSO responded and detecting the same odor, made legal entry into the residence,” according to the release. “The DNSO also obtained a warrant and ultimately located a deceased person inside of the home.”

According to Apperson, the decedent appeared to have died several weeks ago, based on initial observations.

“Our team is actively working this case as I’m talking to you,” he said.

Person of interest

Apperson said detectives have also attempted to contact Emiley’s husband several times.

“We’re not calling Edward a suspect right now,” Apperson said. “He’s a person of interest.”

However, when officers finally did contact Edward, he flaked.

“He agreed to meet us at his residence,” Apperson said, “but he never showed up and his phone was disconnected.”

Investigators are still searching for Hughes.

Apperson said investigators had possession of the couple’s primary vehicle, so it is not known what Hughes might be driving. Apperson said Hughes is known to local law enforcement personnel.

Photos of Hughes were displayed on the sheriff’s office Facebook page and anyone with information is urged to contact DNSO Detective Justin Gill at 707-951-7530.

Confirmation process

Apperson said detectives will not release the name of the decedent until a positive ID is confirmed.

“Although it’s plausible it was her, we’re not releasing the identity yet. It’s a process we have to go through.”

He also said while detectives are investigating the case as a homicide, it has not been determined that homicide was the cause of death.

To explain, Apperson likened the investigation process to another crime.

“Say we discover a car with the ignition punched out,” he explained. “While one would assume it’s been stolen, we can’t say for sure that’s the case, but we’re still going to investigate it as a stolen car.”

California Department of Justice personnel have taken the lead in the investigation and the sheriff’s office is using all available resources in the investigation, he said, but a cause of death has not been determined.

“Crescent City CHP has stepped up and they’re helping with some resources,” he said, “and our coroner’s assistant is working with medical staff. We plan to start the autopsy as soon as possible.”

Apperson confirmed the couple’s children were safe and accounted for Friday.

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