Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office Investigate Suspicious Death

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office is investigating a drug-related 'suspicious death.'

Posted: Nov 9, 2017 11:51 AM
Updated: Dec 31, 2019 11:34 PM

DORRIS, Calif. -- The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said on October 16, 2017 at 3:33 a.m., it received a call of a suicide that on Sequoia Way in the Pleasant Valley Highlands, near Dorris, California. Sergeant Weed was dispatched to the call and arrived in the area and contacted the reporting party 10 minutes later.

After arriving at a trailer used as a primary residence on the rural parcel, the Sheriff's Office said Sergeant Weed found a woman suffering severe injuries from an apparent gunshot wound and was was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said Vang Pao Lee, 38, with an address in Dorris, CA and Vadnais, Minnesota, was at the residence and claimed the woman, a close friend, shot herself with a handgun. The Sheriff's Office said it checked Lee's criminal history.

It revealed Mr. Lee was a convicted felon and he was arrested for the felony charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Sheriffs said preliminary investigation revealed apparent drug violations at the scene. Approximately 1.5 grams of methamphetamine were recovered from a small purse located on the property and it was discovered the parcel reportedly owned by Mr. Lee had a large number of marijuana plants on an illicit cultivation site nearby.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said on October 17th, the Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Enforcement Team (SIMIT) served a search warrant on the premises and recovered approximately 99 illegal cannabis plants that were being cultivated on the property.

The Sheriff's Office also said the Major Crimes Unit served another search warrant on the same day. This was to enable a more thorough search of the trailer and vehicles on the parcel to determine if additional evidence could be obtained to aid in the investigation, including property owned by the decedent.

The Sheriff's Office said an autopsy has been conducted and it was determined that the decedent died of a gunshot wound but due to the suspicious nature of her death, the manner of death has been classified as “undetermined” at this time. A toxicology test was also administered but the results have not returned from the laboratory.

Sheriffs said the decedent was identified as Elizabeth Mae Novak, 18, with a permanent address of Bemidji, Minnesota. The Sheriff's Office said it is anticipated that Mr. Lee will be charged with additional drug-related charges based on the illegal cannabis plants recovered on his property.

“This is a tragic case that resulted in the senseless death of a young adult. We cannot determine the manner of death until the investigation is completed, which could take several weeks. On behalf of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the decedent, her family, friends, and associates. We still have work to do on this case and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24 hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900,” said Sheriff Jon Lopey

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