Butte County DA: Victims in triple murder, arson are two teenagers and a woman

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - The Butte County District Attorney announced Friday that the victims in a triple murder and arson last week are two teenagers and a woman.

According to Mike Ramsey, a 17-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy, and a 46-year-old woman were shot once each with a 12-gauge pump shotgun back on June 12, before their bodies were put in a car, driven to an area near Magalia, and set on fire.

Late Friday night, the Butte County Sheriff's Office confirmed they have circumstantially identified the victims as Richard Jones, Jr., 17, Roland Lowe, 15, and Colleen Lowe, 46. But, they add, DNA testing isn't back yet, so the identifications are not scientifically confirmed.

Donald Clark, 72, has been arrested on suspicion of three counts of murder and a count of arson. In his first appearance Friday, he was granted a public defender, and was told he would be held without bail.

While Ramsey would not release the identities of the three victims, he did share how the suspect and one of the victims were connected.

Ramsey said the 17-year-old, from Sacramento, was apparently friends with someone who lived on Clark's property, and for a few years, would pay visits to the area, sometimes staying for the summer. But last year, Clark and the 17-year-old apparently had a falling out, after Clark began to suspect the teen was stealing equipment. 

He was apparently told not to return to the property, but did on June 12, with a 15-year-old friend and that boy's mother in tow. Ramsey said Clark told the three to leave, and when they didn't, he grabbed the shotgun and opened fire.

It is believed Clark then put all three bodies and a bicycle in a stolen 2000 Acura TL, waited until the late night hours, and drove the car to an area on the Skyway just north of Hupp Coutolenc Road near Magalia, where he threw gasoline on it, and lit it on fire.

Ramsey said he believes Clark then road the bike about seven miles downhill back to his property.

His office will seek a sentence of at least life in prison without parole, but may opt to seek the death penalty at a later date.

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