Pubdate: Thu, 28 Aug 2003
Source: Times-Standard (CA)
Copyright: 2003 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Author: Chris Durant The Times-Standard


BRICELAND -- The death of an 18-year-old Whitethorn man found near the side of
a road Monday is now being called a homicide.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said a Wednesday autopsy on Sean
Thomas-Butler Akselsen revealed he was shot once, but officials declined to
reveal the location of the wound because of the ongoing investigation.

Akselsen was found Monday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. just inside a hole cut in
a wire fence near "Thorn Junction," where Briceland, Whitethorn and Shelter
Cove roads meet.

Akselsen's family has hired a private investigator from Santa Rosa to
investigate the case.

The investigator, Chris Reynolds, said Wednesday he has talked to numerous
people who had contact with Akselsen shortly before his death.

Reynolds said witnesses reported that Akselsen was facilitating a marijuana
deal with three black men who said they were from "the city" and looking to buy
about a pound of pot.

Witnesses report the men were driving a forest-green Camaro.

Reynolds also said people heard a series of gunshots around 7 p.m. Sunday in
the vicinity where Akselsen's body was found. Hearing gunshots is not uncommon
because of the remote location and deer hunting season.

Reynolds said Akselsen's body was discovered by someone who knew him and who
was on the way to a nearby swimming hole. When the witness saw Akselsen, lying
face down and unresponsive, that person went to Akselsen's home. Two of
Akselsen's friends returned and discovered he was dead. The authorities were
then notified.

The Sheriff's Department said it could not comment on specifics of the
investigation. It did confirm that Akselsen's car was found near the crime
scene and is being processed for evidence.

Akselsen was a senior at South Fork High School last year and was voted one of
the "Biggest Ralliers" in his class.

This is the sixth reported homicide in Humboldt County this year; there were 13
last year.

Two other homicides were reported in Southern Humboldt County this year.

The pickup truck of Zachary Stone, 31, Garberville was found in the Eel River
on March 19 and alerted authorities to possible foul play. Stone's body was
found in the Fruitland Ridge area later the same day.

Robert Matthew Church, 38, Phillipsville, was named a suspect in the killing
and turned himself in to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department March 21.

The Humboldt County Coroner's Office said Stone died from a single gunshot
wound to the head.

Church is in custody in the Humboldt County Jail and will be in court Sept. 18
for an intervention hearing.

The body of Paul Sanders, 30, was found near the Ettersburg area in June.
Sanders had been reported missing in the fall of 1998.

Joshua Edward Kirtley, 25, Garberville, was arrested in connection to Sanders'
death. He was in custody in an Alameda County jail on suspicion of domestic
violence charges when he was arrested.

Kirtley was transported to the Humboldt County Jail and will be in court today
for an intervention hearing, which is closed to the public.

There's also an investigation into a missing Southern Humboldt man who's known
for his involvement in medical marijuana issues.

Chris Giauque, 36, Redway, was last seen in northern Mendocino County earlier
this month. His pickup truck was found off the Avenue of the Giants near Myers
Flat Aug. 13. There were no signs of foul play but the family suspects
something has happened to him.

In April 2001, Giauque coordinated a marijuana giveaway on the steps of the
Humboldt County Courthouse where he planned on giving a half pound of pot to
anyone who had a medical marijuana card. He was arrested before any pot was
given away.

He also sued Humboldt County over an ounce of marijuana that was confiscated
from him during a traffic stop in 1999. The lawsuit ended when the federal Drug
Enforcement Agency became involved and the ounce of pot was eventually

Giauque's brother, Clint Giauque, is offering a $50,000 reward for information
leading to his brother.

Anyone with information on Akselsen's death or Giauque's whereabouts is asked
to call the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department at 445-7251.
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