If you are struggling with domestic violence there are resources that can help: In Mendocino County, Project Sanctuary provides free resources and support; they have temporarily suspended walk-in visits but can be reached 24/7 at (707) 463-4357 for the inland county area, and (707) 964-4357 for the coast.
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UPDATE 3:50 p.m. — The Mendocino County District Attorney’s office has said that they plan to file charges of murder against Tavion Johnson, husband of the deceased Elenah Elston, and that he will most likely be arraigned in Mendocino Superior Court on Monday. Assistant District Attorney Dale Trigg will be handling the case.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has also updated their press release to note that Elston died out of county, that the MCSO maintains jurisdiction since the crime was committed in Mendocino County, and that a forensic autopsy will be conducted today.
UPDATED PRESS RELEASE:
On 04-02-2020 at approximately 8:15 AM Elenah Louise Elston died in an out of county hospital in connection with this reported incident.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Division has assumed jurisdiction in determining the cause, manner and classification of her death. A forensic autopsy has been scheduled for 04-03-2020 as part of the death investigation.
Sheriff’s Office Detectives are continuing investigations into this incident and are being assisted by investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office and cirminialists from the California Department of Justice.MCSO
WILLITS, 4/3/20 — A 49 year old Willits woman was left brain dead after being severely injured in an alleged domestic violence assault on Monday, March 30. Elenah Elston was initially taken to Howard Hospital but then had to be transported to an out-of-county hospital due to the severity of her injuries, where she was declared brain dead. Her body was kept on life support until yesterday morning, to give her mother time to travel and to be with her. She was taken off life support and declared dead around 8:15 a.m. Thursday.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies were first called to the emergency room at Howard Hospital after a reported case of a fall, which appeared suspicious. Deputies then recognized the victim due to prior interactions, some of which were for reports of domestic violence, and subsequently contacted, investigated and arrested her husband, Tavion Johnson, a 21 year old Willits man. The investigation is still ongoing and “the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office will be retaining coroner’s jurisdiction regarding her death despite her dying in another county,” said the MCSO public information officer, Captain Greg Van Patten.
Johnson was booked into the Mendocino County jail at 2:30 a.m. on March 31, and is currently being held without bail, on felony charges of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, misdemeanor violation of a protective order, committing grand bodily injury during a felony, and violating probation.
However, these charges may change, as of April 2, the investigation had not been completed and so charges had not been finalized and filed against Johnson, according to Mike Geniella, spokesperson at the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office. Geniella said he could not comment until the reports had been submitted and reviewed prior to charges being filed. Still, the death of Elston most likely means the charges will be raised to something involving homicide.
Elston was kept on life support until her mother could arrive. She was taken off life support early this morning, while friends and family held an online vigil through an online video conferencing service. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic large gatherings are prohibited under the shelter-in-place orders and many families and friends have been denied access to loved ones dying in hospital.
Friends and family of Elston have begun sharing photos and memories on social media, with some expressing sorrow over memories of earlier abuse they had witnessed suffer. “She was irreplaceable,” a friend told The Mendocino Voice. A Facebook group has also been started in her memory, (and you can read a letter to the editor about her here.)
Geniella clarified that as of the time of publication, no arraignment had been scheduled as the charges against Johnson had not been filed. People familiar with the situation said that Johnson had a history of abusive behavior towards Elston.
Friends and family of the Elston have said that they plan to write letters to the D.A. detailing past abuses. Johnson had been arrested and booked five times in Mendocino County since June, 2019, including three incidents involving domestic violence charges, most recently on February 21, 2020, according to Van Patten, although this does not necessarily mean he was convicted of those charges.
Domestic violence, and intimate partner violence, of some kind has been one of the primary causes of homicides, and missing people in Mendocino County for the past few years.
It is often difficult for survivors of domestic violence to access important support and resources during the best of times, and the shelter-in-place order means that some people may be staying at home with their abusers, or in other difficult situations. In Mendocino County, Project Sanctuary provides free resources and support; they have temporarily suspended walk-in visits but can be reached 24/7 at (707) 463-4357 for the inland county area, and (707) 964-4357 for the coast.
Here’s the press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office:
|DATE: “March 31, 2020”|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Incident Number: 2020-8508
Crime/Incident: 273.5(a) PC-Corporal Injury to spouse/cohabitant
273.6 PC- Violation of served criminal protection order
1203.2 PC- Violation of terms of probation
12022.7(e) PC- Cause great bodily injury while committing felony domestic violence.
Location: 2600 block Goose Road, Willits, Ca
Date of Incident: 03-30-2020
Time: 5:00 PM
Victim(s): Adult female, 49 years old, Willits, Ca
Suspect(s): Tavion Johnson, 21 year old male, Willits, Ca
Written By: Lieutenant Andrew Porter
Synopsis: On March 30th, at approximately 5:00 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were summoned to the Emergency Room at Howard memorial Hospital for a reported fall victim that appeared suspicious in nature. Upon arrival, the deputies located the victim, an adult female, age 49 of Willits, who was being treated for major head injuries which left her unconscious and unable to communicate. The deputies knew the female from numerous prior calls for service, which included calls for domestic violence involving the same victim. After learning the victim had severe head injuries that were more consistent with a violence act and not a fall, the deputies responded to the victim’s residence to contact her husband.
The deputies contacted the suspect, Tavion Johnson, 21 year old male of Willits, California, at his residence in the 2600 block of Goose Road. After completing their investigation, which included interviewing Johnson, and inspecting the crime scene, Deputies determined that there had been a violent encounter between Johnson and the victim, who is Johnson’s wife. Johnson was ultimately arrested for felony domestic violence, violation of a domestic violence criminal protective order, violation of probation (Of which Johnson was on probation for previous domestic violence arrests) and for causing great bodily injury to the victim during the commission of an act of domestic violence. Johnson was transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he is being held without bail.
The victim in this case was transported to an out of county hospital for a higher level of treatment due to the injuries she received during the violent encounter with her husband.