Last month, a California defense attorney and three state highway patrol officers were taken into custody for allegedly having connections with the murder of 26-year old Korey Kauffman in 2012. Kauffman’s body was found 18 months after he disappeared in Mariposa County. He was locally known for “scrapping” (stealing metal to sell). Prominent Modesto, CA criminal defense attorney Frank Carson was the suspected ringleader in an alleged conspiracy. Carson has been described as a “vengeful property owner trying to send a message to people allegedly stealing scrap metal and antiques from his property in Turlock.” On the night of Korey Kauffman’s disappearance, he was heading to steal irrigation pipes from Frank Carson’s property.
“The whole scrapper life, I didn’t approve of it,” Korey Kauffman’s father said of his late son. “You know how fathers are with their sons; we tend to be harder on them. But he chose his own path. He was a good kid with a good heart and he didn’t deserve what he got.”
Nine people were named and arrested in connection with the conspiracy, including Frank Carson, his wife, two business owners in Turlock, and three highway patrol officers. Carson faces potential charges of murder, criminal conspiracy, false imprisonment, solicitation, and lying in wait, which could qualify Carson for the death penalty. Authorities believe that Kauffman’s murder took place on March 30, 2012 in the Turlock area. They believe his body was then hidden in Mariposa County where it was discovered by hunters in August 2013.
The arrest warrant detailing probable cause to arrest Frank Carson described him as an easily angered person, without respect for authority and who hoped “to send a message to thieves targeting his belongings.” Carson had previously accused Korey Kauffman of stealing from his property in Turlock and had previously complained to authorities about Kauffman.
Walter Wells, Scott McFarlane, and Eduardo Quintanar Jr., all California Highway Patrol officers, also face charges connected to this conspiracy. Wells faces charges of murder, conspiracy, and false imprisonment. McFarlane and Quintanar Jr. face potential charges of criminal conspiracy and being an accessory. Wells’ seven years of employment as a highway patrol officer ended in June due to conduct unrelated to these charges. McFarlane and Quintanar Jr. were placed on administrative leave as a result of this investigation. The arrest documents conclude that Korey Kauffman’s body was dumped into the woods by a police car. “I am here saddened by this news. The California Highway Patrol is a very proud organization that values integrity,” Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “To hear news like this is devastating.” Farrow remarked that news of officers’ alleged involvement in a criminal conspiracy has a negative effect on all law enforcement agencies and “rips at the soul of an organization.”
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