On April 21, 2017, someone left a noose on the doorstep of The Sacramento Valley Mirror, a semiweekly newspaper in Willows, California, newspaper staff told the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Reporter and editor Larry Judkins said that the threat was “clearly in response to a story in the current edition at that time” about a woman who had hanged herself. The story was published on April 19, under the headline, “Orland woman hangs herself at Lollipop Land.”
The newspaper had received complaints about the article and its inclusion of information about the individual’s mental health and history with police. One woman came to the Mirror‘s office to complain–“quite politely,” Judkins said–about the article and two other articles published in the past year that reported the deaths of Joey Strickland and Bailey vonBargen, identifying herself as a friend of all three of the deceased.
The noose appeared at around 5:00 p.m. on April 21, Judkins said. Tim Crews, who owns, edits, and writes for the Mirror, expressed concern over the local police department’s “limited” response the incident, noting that the police report referred to the noose as “found property.” Police declined to comment.
The April 21 incident comes on the heels of a month of continual complaints and threats related to a March 22 article Judkins wrote about Strickland’s death. Two days after the article’s publication, the offices received multiple calls from family members threatening lawsuits and multiple calls from a man who “made it clear that he was coming after me,” Judkins said.