Del Norte County Cold Case Murder Makes State History

She arrived in Del Norte County around eight, the evening of October 26, 1994, having been dropped off at the Texaco service station on Highway 101. The petite red-head would write in her diary of the trip:

“The third car that picked me up were two old guys, Chris Collins and Ernie. They took me to Brookings to Chris’s house; he wanted me to see it so badly. They are good men. Chris offered for me to stay the night. I probably should have but I declined from his offer. I really don’t know why. I got a ride to Crescent City. Now I’m here. What now?”

Four days later, hikers would find the mutilated body of 18-year-old Camellia Randall — raped, stabbed, beaten and heart removed — less than 100 feet from Howland Hill Road. Her death would stay unsolved for more than seven-years and eventually would become California’s first cold-case DNA hit.

Known as Cammie by her family and ‘Forest’ by her friends, she was born May 25, 1976, in Longview, Washington, the eldest of three children. She attended R.A. Long High School, where she excelled in running track until she began hitchhiking when she was 18.

Cammie’s travels lead her to the Ashland area, where she stayed part of the time on the street with her friends and at other times with her aunt, who owned a flower shop. Her friends in Ashland were part of a street culture that got by through begging for spare change.

But Cammie didn’t beg. Instead, she bartered her handcrafted-beaded jewelry for anything she needed and helped her aunt with flower arrangements to earn extra cash.

The last-known contact Cammie had before her death was a phone message she left for her aunt on Wednesday, four days before her body was discovered. In the message, Cammie told her aunt that she was in Crescent City and planned to sleep on the beach that night.

The final entry in Cammie’s diary, penned that same day, read: “I’ll sleep on the ocean tonight. I tried calling aunt, but no one’s home. I hope all is well. Tomorrow is Mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom. Best wishes. Feel sort of sad.”

Eventually, a match was made to Crescent City native Robert Wigley. A sample of his DNA having been taken in 1999 after he pleaded no contest to sexual battery in Del Norte County.

That sample was then sent to the California Department of Justice’s DNA laboratory in Berkeley, California and kept on file. Through periodic random comparisons of DNA profiles and DNA evidence from unsolved crimes, they linked Wigley with Cammie’s murder.

Already booked into Del Norte County Jail in late November for a probation violation, he was charged December 1, with Cammie’s murder.

At first he claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments that affected his memory and insisted that he didn’t remember Cammie. However, in court it was revealed he had met her when he and his wife managed the Super 8 Motel in Crescent City.

Wigley would later argue that she had killed Cammie – something that was more and more unlikely Wigley’s past was revealed. As it turned out, she’d also been a victim of his brutality and had divorced him because of his abuse years before.

In the 2005 TV series, “Cold Case Files,” in the episode, “A Detective’s Promise,” she spoke about how her ex-husband treated her when they were married: “Hitting me, pushing me across the room, throwing me across the room. He choked me until I passed out. He held a gun to my head.”

It was in September 2003 that the case finally made it to trial. By that time Wigley had earned an additional charge of solicitation of murder after he and another inmate made plans to escape by murdering a bailiff while en route to a court hearing.

A letter, written by Wigley and given to inmate David Anderson, included names and telephone numbers for Anderson to contact upon his soon-to-be release. In it, Anderson was coached by Wigley to get a gun, two vehicles and some cash in an elaborate plan to escape from custody while the defendant was being transported to court on June 10, 2002.

During a 2002 preliminary hearing, Wigley claimed the escape plan was a lie made-up by Anderson. However, Anderson told investigators he was asked by Wigley to shoot a bailiff while being escorted to court, then aiding Wigley in the escape.

It took the eight-woman, four-man jury just 22 minutes to decide that Wigley acted alone when he raped, tortured, murdered and then mutilated Cammie. For her murder, Wigley was sentenced to life in San Quentin State Prison without the possibility of parole, plus 10 years for the count of solicitation of murder.

After Cammie’s death, in Guerneville along the Russian River, where she would have ended her journey, her family had a memorial service for her. She’s buried at Murray Hill Cemetery, in Clatskanie, Oregon, where she has other family members reposed.

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Published by

Tom Darby

Former radio personality and newspaper reporter

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