Siskiyou Sheriff's Office reports Happy Camp murder arrest

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
A photo of Benjamin Arthur Camarena of Happy Camp, whose body was found in the Klamath River May 4, 2017, after a search that began April 14. Photo submitted by the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office.

A 24 year old Happy Camp man was arrested Tuesday, May 9, and charged with the murder of 42 year old Benjamin Arthur Camarena, also of Happy Camp.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office reported in a news release that its detectives and members of the Special Response Team arrested Dakota Michael Bearquiver in Happy Camp at about 7:41 p.m. Tuesday. He was transported to the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka and booked for murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and intimidating a witness/dissuading a witness of a crime. He was being held without bail, pending an arraignment in the Siskiyou County Superior Court.

Sheriff Jon Lopey expressed appreciation in the release for the support his officers received from the victim’s family and Happy Camp citizens.

Lopey states that the arresting team “deployed skillfully” and took the suspect into custody without anyone getting hurt. He said there was an infant in a structure on the property and firearms in the structure, “which presented a potential safety threat.”

A 20-day search of the Klamath River in the Happy Camp area for Benjamin Camarena’s body was “exhaustive,” according to the Sheriff’s Office release. It involved the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Posse, Dive Team, and Water Safety Unit, and California Highway Patrol Northern Division Air Operations fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft.

The Sheriff’s Office also mentions the “extensive assistance and support... received by Karuk, Hoopa, and Yurok tribal emergency response and various volunteer resources. The U.S. Coast Guard, California Army National Guard, and California Office of Emergency Services also assisted with the search and recovery efforts since April 14th.”

Camarena was reported missing on April 14 and his body was found May 4 in the Klamath River about two miles east of Wingate, a few miles west of Happy Camp, by members of the Dive Team and Search and Rescue.

The Sheriff’s Office said the case was investigated as a possible homicide from the beginning, when a report was received of a body floating down Indian Creek and then a body was seen floating in the swift current of the Klamath River.

Camarena was reported missing by relatives shortly after the initial search began, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and “he was last seen in the vicinity of Indian Creek in the Happy Camp area at about the time the body in the river was reported to law enforcement authorities on April 14th.”

While the search continued for many days after the body submerged, the Sheriff’s Office reported that its Major Crimes Unit “developed a number of investigative leads in recent days and weeks,” which resulted in Tuesday’s arrest.

“The SCSO’s Special Response Team, Crisis Response Team, and additional SCSO field units responded due to the extraordinary officer safety threats that potentially existed during the arrest operation,” according to the release. “A CHP unit also assisted SCSO with the operation.”

“I would again like to extend our sincere condolences, thoughts, and prayers to the family and friends of Mr. Camarena in the aftermath of his tragic death,” Sheriff Lopey states in the release. “They have suffered untold grief and uncertainty during this ordeal and it is a positive development that this arrest was made because it provides some answers to the family about Benjamin’s disappearance. The many departmental members involved in this on-going, complex, difficult, and challenging investigation have worked very hard to solve this case on behalf of the victim, his family, friends, and the entire Happy Camp community. We still have a lot of work to do on this case and anyone with any information about Mr. Camarena’s case is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”