Victim, suspect in Lake of the Pines fatal stabbing were friends

Nevada County investigation continues in circumstances involved in death of 33-year-old
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN - In and around Lake of the Pines, Ryan Roth and Branden Riddle-Terrel were seen as friends. But in the early morning hours of this past Thursday, that friendship veered tragically off course into what authorities allege was murder. Roth’s life ended in a frenzied stabbing and Riddle-Terrel, 24, of Petaluma, is in a Nevada County jail cell charged with his murder. In the aftermath, Roth’s killing in a home during a small party inside the gated community about 10 miles north of Auburn is being seen by nearby residents as an aberration. But some are also expressing concern that big-city crime many moved to rural South Nevada County to escape from has gained a foothold. “Those things aren’t the norm up here,” said Daniel Baldwin. “I retired from The City and this community is about kids, families and sports. Usually it has no troubles.” Kevin Bohm said he was shocked when he learned about the stabbing. “This is a small community – people are pretty much elderly here,” Bohm said. “I couldn’t see it happening here.” The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office is still piecing together the events surrounding a gathering of six or seven people at Roth’s 11000-block Lakeshore North house. Sgt. Dan Saunders said Friday the investigation had yet to reach at least two witnesses from a get-together that involved marijuana and alcohol consumption. Saunders said that witnesses indicated people at Roth’s residence were initially having a good time. “The suspect started making bizarre statements and waving a knife around,” Saunders said. “The victim tried to take the knife away and ended up being stabbed multiple times.” According to preliminary examinations of the body, Roth, 33, was stabbed in the torso and once in the neck. The knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was located at the Lakeshore North residence, Saunders said. Double-bladed, with a serrated edge, the blade is 5 inches long, he said. Lake of the Pines has tight security at its entrance, with only residents or guests whose names have been left at the gate allowed in by guards. Riddle-Terrel, 24, and described by authorities as a guest of Roth’s, had no checkpoint to go through on his way out, however. Saunders said Riddle-Terrel fled in a car. Roth was already dead by the time emergency personnel arrived at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Kayla Scott, who works in the Gristmill bakery and coffee shop in a plaza just outside the Lake of the Pines gates, said she knew Roth as a regular customer and Riddle-Terrel as a good friend of his. The two would come to lunch at the eatery and they always arrived and left on good terms, she said. “I didn’t see it coming,” Scott said. “They were like good friends and hung out together.” Roth was more of a regular customer and Scott said she had just recently memorized his usual order – a salami and pepper-jack cheese sandwich with extra peppers. Roth was a good tipper – $2 or $3 each visit – and was always happy and smiling, she said. “He was coming in every day,” Scott said. “He didn’t come in that day. But I thought ‘What were the chances?’ Then I heard today that it was him.” The Placer County Sheriff’s Office would be on the lookout in the minutes following the first emergency report for the fleeing Riddle-Terrel car. Deputies spotted it as it moved west along Interstate 80 through Auburn. Ignoring flashing lights and sirens, Riddle-Terrel would continue along I-80, then veer off on Douglas Boulevard before traveling south on Sunrise Boulevard toward Sacramento. At Cirby Way and Sunrise in Roseville, Riddle-Terrel’s car would run over spike strips spread out over the road, Placer County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin said. But the pursuit, which would eventually have 15 law-enforcement patrol cars and a California Highway Patrol helicopter tailing him, would not end until Elk Grove. Arraignment Monday Riddle-Terrel attempted to ditch the car and run. But, with a helicopter spotlighting him from above, a sheriff’s canine caught up with him, biting him several times, and allowing pursuers to arrest him. Riddle-Terrel is to be arraigned Monday in Nevada County Superior Court. There is a no-bail hold. The fatal stabbing was a major focus of discussion at the Hair Express on Combie Road, near the Lake of the Pines entrance, on Friday. Owner John Spalding said he knew neither the victim nor the alleged perpetrator but the homicide has sent a ripple of concern through the community, according to customers. Many are directing their concerns at the number of increased rentals inside Lake of the Pines that have followed a jump in foreclosed homes being sold, he said. “Murders are few and far between,” Spalding said. “The general consensus is that Lake of the Pines is not happy with renters in general. This adds fuel to the fire. There are so many rentals and a lot of vandalism and petty crime. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know.”