Nine people including past and present California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers and one prominent California lawyer, were arrested on August 14 in connection with the murder of Korey Kauffman, a Central Valley man who was reported missing in April 2012 and whose lifeless body was found near Yosemite National Park by hunters one year later. At a press conference held in Modesto, officials said that those arrested were either directly involved with Kauffman’s death or helped to mislead investigators and cover up his killing, according to an August 15 report from Fox News.
Deputies with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said that Frank Carson, an attorney out of Modesto, was the mastermind behind the 26-year-old Kauffman’s death and that Carson employed two sibling liquor store owners to help with the killing. Carson is suspected of Kauffman’s first-degree murder, “with enhancements that include lying in wait, false imprisonment, conspiracy and the use of a firearm,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
According to court papers, investigators said that Kauffman, described as a drifter, had been stealing antique valuables from storage units housed on Carson’s property. The police court filing stipulated that allegedly, Kauffman was on his way to steal more antiques on the day he disappeared. Investigators stated that Kauffman’s death was a way for Carson to “send a message,” according to a portion of the court filing quoted by Fox.
Eduardo Quintanar and Scott McFarlane with the California Highway Patrol who were associates of the liquor store brothers were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the investigation into Kauffman’s killing. A former CHP officer, Walter Wells, was arrested as a suspect in Kauffman’s murder. People quoted CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow as saying “The entire department and I are appalled at the mere thought that one former and two current employees played any role in this incident.”
Also arrested Friday was Carson’s wife, Georgia Geanette Defilippo, who investigators say took part in Kauffman’s murder. The arrests also included Defilippo’s daughter, suspected of being an accessory to murder and also accused of impeding the investigation into Kauffman’s killing. An attorney for Carson said that her client is innocent of any involvement in Kauffman’s death.
The Los Angeles Times identified the liquor store brothers arrested as brothers Baljit and Daljit Atwa. CHP officers Quintanar and McFarlane have been placed on administrative leave. Wells was terminated by the Highway Patrol earlier this summer for conduct unrelated to this investigation, according to Farrow.
As of Friday, all nine suspects remained in jail following their arrests. Formal charges are expected to be filed on Monday. For more on Carson’s and the CHP officers’ arrests, see the video accompanying this article.