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Two Tuolumne County men arrested, accused of elder abuse after leaving woman dies while camping

Detectives arrest two Twain Harte men after finding an elderly woman dead after going on a camping trip.
Credit: Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office
Tuolumne County Sheriff patrol car

TUOLUMNE COUNTY, Calif. — Two men from Twain Harte have been arrested after allegedly leaving an elderly woman in the cold, killing her, during a recent camping trip.

According to a Facebook post from the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office, deputies received reports on Dec. 6 of a woman who had gone missing while on a camping trip on Dec. 3 in Herring Creek. 

Russel Hedge, 60, of Twain Harte, told deputies he took the woman camping and that she had gone missing. The sheriff's search and rescue team conducted a search of the Herring Creek area where the victim was last seen, but did not find her. The search and rescue team continued searching for the missing person Tuesday, Dec. 7 and found her dead.

Detectives then took over the investigation because of suspicious circumstances surrounding the woman's death. During the investigation, detectives found out the missing person had several illnesses and had trouble caring for herself. 

Deputies believe Hedge and 51-year old Timothy Hoblitt took the victim camping on Dec. 3, and left her on her own without any means of transportation on Dec. 4.The Facebook post goes on to say Hedge and Hoblitt returned to the campsite on Dec. 5, because of freezing temperatures, but did not find the woman. The pair collected the person's belongings, but did not contact law enforcement at that point.

Detectives got a search warrant for Hedge's home and during the search found the person's items, including a purse and cell phone. Both Hedge and Hoblitt were arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and elder abuse resulting in death. They were both booked into the Tuolumne County Jail.


Posted by Tuolumne County Sheriff on Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The woman's identity will be released once the family has been notified. The cause of the her death is pending autopsy results.  

The sheriff's office is looking for potential witnesses who were in the Herring Creek area between Dec. 3 - 6. Anyone with information can contact Detective Donaldson at (209) 694-2910.

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