Man beaten in Yreka Greenway succumbs to injuries, transient arrested for murder

Skye Kinkade
Siskiyou Daily News

A 53-year-old Yreka man was severely beaten in a homeless encampment in the Yreka Greenway last week, and a local transient has been arrested for his murder.

Joseph Hendricks later died of his injuries, said his brother, Montana Hendricks. Noah William Smith, age 20, was arrested for the assault and has now been charged with murder, according to Yreka Police Department Lt. Chris Betts.

Noah William Smith

“My brother stayed with me, but would sometimes get in a mood and go stay outside,” said Montana Hendricks. “But he was never violent ... my brother lost his battle in this world, and my only peace is that he is at peace.”

Montana Hendricks said personnel from Mercy Medical Center Redding called him on Monday to report Joseph’s heart had been donated to someone who would have died without a transplant. Several of his other organs were donated as well.

“So it gives me a little bit of comfort knowing he didn’t die for nothing,” said Montana.

Joseph Hendricks’ assault took place last Wednesday, Feb. 24. Officers were dispatched to a reported stabbing in the Yreka Creek Greenway north of Oberlin Road at about 5:15 p.m., according to the YPD.

RELATED:Early morning Montague blazes set by man with flare gun

While responding, YPD dispatch advised officers that the person reporting the incident identified the suspect as “Noah.” 

“While officers were operating their patrol vehicles along the paved greenway path enroute to the scene, they observed a subject on the east side (of) the path, which was relayed via radio to incoming officers,” YPD said in a press release. 

Officers ultimately contacted and detained Noah Smith, YPD said.

The scene of the crime was a transient encampment on the eastern edge of the greenway, east of Interstate 5, YPD said. Officers found Joseph Hendricks on the ground with “a significant amount of blood on his face.”

More:Case against Siskiyou inmate accused of murder suspended pending mental evaluation

More:Here's 3 Siskiyou County murder trials we're keeping an eye on

Officers knew Joseph from previous contact, YPD said.

“Hendricks only moaned and did not provide any information verbally during the investigation,” said Lt. Betts.

Medical personnel assisted Hendricks at the encampment and he was ambulanced to Fairchild Medical Center before being transported again to Mercy Medical Center Redding.

Montana Hendricks said  he believes Smith used a bag of rocks to beat his brother. He also believes had his brother received treatment earlier for his head injury, he may have survived.

When officers found Smith, he was carrying khaki-colored coveralls which were covered in blood, said Betts. Smith also had blood on his shoes and the white shirt he was wearing.

Smith was booked into the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka for violation of probation and aggravated battery. After Joseph Hendricks’ death on Saturday, a charge of murder was added, according to the YPD.

Smith was arraigned in a Siskiyou County courtroom on Monday, according to online court records. No bail is listed on the Siskiyou County Jail website.

Hendricks is irate that a man like Smith, who he said is known as “Machete” in the homeless camps around Yreka, was allowed to be free and on the street without a permanent address.

Smith was previously arrested in July of 2020 on arson charges after “maliciously setting fires” in the Montague area with a flare gun and a bow and arrow, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office at the time. For that offense, Smith spent time in jail before being released in January, according to court documents.

Montana Hendricks, who has lived in Yreka for seven years, also points out the dangers of once peaceful areas like Greenhorn Park and the greenway, which are now “overrun” with homeless people, murders and drugs.

“Greenhorn isn’t a place to take your kids anymore,” he said. “When does this stop?”

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.