Two dead at Beach
Two bodies discovered Thursday at the 4-H Campground beach in Stateline were either victims of a double homicide – or a nighttime accident on a stolen personal watercraft.
As of press time, both scenarios seemed possible but neither could be confirmed. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department reported the deaths as possible homicides soon after the bodies were discovered about noon just west of Nevada Beach.
But investigators were also seen examining the pier near where the bodies were found. A personal watercraft reported stolen from the Lakeside Marina was found adrift in Lake Tahoe about 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
The initial call to emergency dispatchers described a man with a serious head laceration – not a gunshot wound. One victim was found in the lake close to shore. A second victim, also reported to be a male, was found under a boat on the beach. Their identities were not released.
Sheriff’s officials kept a tight lid on information throughout the day and did not return repeated phone calls Thursday night. At one point, the “crime scene” extended from Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course to a nearby campground where visitors were asked to move.
The Sheriff’s Department also said it is looking for a man “in an effort to establish if he was involved in this crime.”
But it remains unclear whether the deaths were intentional or what evidence exists, if any, of foul play. No details about the alleged crime were released except a brief press release, which stated investigators “will consider this crime a homicide until further crime scene work is completed.”
Search and rescue divers scoured the lake bottom near where the victim was found. Thursday night, investigators examined the stolen watercraft at Lakeside Marina but stated that they were only following up on a boat theft.
“It was here when we left at 7 p.m. (Wednesday),” said Lakeside Harbormaster Steve Gadsby. “We came back at 8 a.m. and it was gone. Even if you haven’t (operated one) they’re pretty simple pieces of equipment.”
Lakeside Marina Manager Roger Gadsbury said he thinks the watercraft was taken for a joy ride. The low-hanging pier would present a definite hazard to riders, witnesses said, especially on a dark night with an unlighted vessel.
“It’s dark, and probably, ‘Bang!’, they didn’t even see it coming,” Gadsbury said.
The pier borders the Nevada 4-H Club Camp, where the Muscular Dystrophy Association is holding its annual camp this week.
MDA spokesman Bob Mackle said Douglas County sheriff’s official told him that the young campers shouldn’t worry because “they were 99 percent sure” the deaths involved a personal watercraft accident.
“That would explain why no one at the camp heard gunshots,” Mackle said Thursday night.
Mackle said the campers were out of the area when the bodies were found.
“They weren’t even aware of what was going on,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate it occurred on the grounds.”
Tonja Jacobson and her husband were camping at Nevada Beach near where the bodies were discovered. They were roused in the middle of the night by a group of people yelling early Thursday morning.
“I just heard a lot of shouting,” Jacobson said. “I thought it was coming from (the beach). We couldn’t make out any words. It was just yelling. It sounded like more than two people arguing.”
Authorities are looking for a man who was seen running about 12:30 p.m. near the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and Kingsbury Grade. He is described as white, about 6 feet, 2 inches tall, weighing 175 pounds with dark hair. He was wearing a large, light-colored floppy-brimmed hat, shorts and a tan, button-down short-sleeved shirt.
Anyone with information should contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department at 775-782-9911.
– City Editor Michael S. Green and staff writer Susan Wood contributed to this report.
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