Law Enforcement’s Hunt for Murder Suspect Closes Portion of D-9 Deer Hunt Zone

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Cpt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Law enforcement’s multi-week search for Benjamin Peter Ashley continues in Eastern Kern County, California, which will affect a small number of deer hunters in zone D-9. Ashley became a person of interest in an ongoing investigation into a kidnapping which occurred on July 28, a murder which occurred on July 30 and an attempted murder of a peace officer which occurred Aug. 1.

The primary focus area of the search has been in and around the south and east areas of Lake Isabella. Portions of the search area include public lands, but due to the seriousness of the suspect violations public access is being restricted for safety reasons.

The U.S. Forest Service ordered a mandatory public safety closure for a portion of the Sequoia National Forest. The order restricts public activity including entry onto lands and driving upon roadways in the Kern River District within the Sequoia National Forest. The order became effective on Aug. 5 and extends through Aug. 30 unless otherwise repealed.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was advised that the closure order will affect a portion of the D-9 deer hunt zone, which is set to open for archery hunting this Saturday, Aug. 15. While the closure was not a directive issued by CDFW, the department wants to emphasize that the closure is for public safety and that strict adherence to the order is strongly advised. CDFW wants to remind the public that failure to comply with emergency closure orders of this kind could result in detention, citation or arrest.

CDFW does not provide exchange options for premium deer tag zones, thus no exchanges for D-9 deer zone tags will be issued.

Public land closures for purposes of public safety that affect deer hunt zone opportunities are not uncommon. Occurrences of closures happen somewhere in the state almost every year. For this reason, CDFW does not often make exception to the deer tag exchange rule. The most frequent cause of emergency closures of public lands is wildland fire.

CDFW wildlife officers are assisting with the multi-agency operation and will continue to do so.

CDFW thanks the public for their patience and understanding and encourages all outdoor recreationists to remain alert and vigilant at all times.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s assistance in locating Benjamin Peter Ashley. The Sheriff’s Office has established a 24-hour TIP LINE. If anyone has information on Ashley or his whereabouts they are asked to call the TIP LINE at (661) 392-4360.

For description and picture of Ashley, please click

For the complete details and maps of the closure order, please click